I-TEAM: Hilliard family awarded $4M in Amite River Tiki Tubing drowning death lawsuit
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The company once known as Tiki Tubing has lost a legal fight against the family of Keith Hilliard which has been awarded more than $4 million dollars.
In a judgment issued Friday in Louisiana’s Middle District, Judge Brian Jackson wrote that Tiki Tubing’s representatives failed to answer, make an appearance, or otherwise defend the company against the lawsuit.
Damages were awarded to Hilliard’s wife Lisa, and other family members Christian, Jabori, and Ma’Khail. Total damages amount to $4,933,122.
Hilliard drowned in June of 2021 after he rented a tube from the company for a recreational trip on the Amite River with his family. Witnesses told first responders that Hilliard hopped off his tube into the water to retrieve an item when he went under and failed to resurface.
First responders later pulled Hilliard from the water but could not save his life.
His family’s attorney filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit a year later claiming Tiki Tubing failed to provide life jackets and other safety equipment to customers.
His family told WAFB in a past interview that the company did not adequately warn them of the depths and dangers they could encounter while floating along the Amite.
Tiki Tubing closed in June after its owners were arrested and accused of sex crimes in separate cases.
In the aftermath of Hillard’s death and other near drownings on the Amite, Livingston Parish’s council passed an ordinance that requires companies operating on the river to offer life jackets to customers and provide certain safety materials on the river’s dangers.
A new recreational tubing company that is not associated with Tiki Tubing has since opened in the location.
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