$3,750,000 Settlement – Apartment Complex Shooting

Shiver Hamilton negotiated an unsafe premises settlement on behalf of a young man who was shot at a DeKalb County apartment complex. The young man was visiting with friends at the apartment complex when he was approached by a stranger and shot in the leg. Our client ultimately lost his leg below the knee due to the gunshot wound.

The case was originally handled by an Atlanta lawyer who did not have much experience litigating premise liability or negligent security cases. Negligent security cases require a unique approach to uncover the necessary information to establish that the criminal attack would not have occurred had the property owner or apartment complex employed reasonable security measures. When Shiver Hamilton was brought in, the case was about to be dismissed because the prior lawyer had not filed suit against the proper entities. Shiver Hamilton immediately filed an emergency motion to uncover the identity of the proper defendants and moved the court to substitute the proper parties. That motion was granted allowing the case to proceed. Had the proper parties not been substituted, the case would have been dismissed.

The defendant property owner and property management company were insured by one of the world’s largest insurance companies with unlimited resources. They initially denied any responsibility claiming that our client was a trespasser on the property. Shiver Hamilton was able to locate numerous witnesses who testified under oath that our client was invited to the property to visit friends. Apartment owners and managers must exercise reasonable care to keep the property safe with their tenants. That same duty applies not only to the tenants, but the tenant’s guests. The guest of a tenant stands in the same shoes as the tenant with respect to the landlord’s duties.

This particular property was built as a low-income housing tax credit property (LIHTC). That program was created by the federal government to encourage investment in low income areas and create affordable housing for low income residents. Often, corporations will invest in these properties to obtain significant tax credits. We learned through discovery and subpoenas that a large bank had invested in this property. The bank was reaping the benefits of tax credits but was not substantively investing in the property. The bank essentially allowed the property to fall into disrepair.

Through our investigation, Shiver Hamilton learned that, one month before the shooting, the property employed security because of crime occurring at the property and in the area. Shiver Hamilton located the former security guards who testified under oath that they were fired by the management company. When they were fired, they told the management company that the property was unsafe without security and suggested the apartment complex keep security for the safety of the residence. During numerous depositions, no one at the management company could explain why security was fired and not replaced. Ultimately, the property managers corporate representative agreed that security is important and they should have had security on the date our client was shot.

Shiver Hamilton brings compassion and zeal to every case. They dedicate whatever resources are necessary to make sure clients are treated fairly and that justice is done. They don’t take quick settlements that leave clients’ families unable to recover from the financial and emotional loss of a loved one’s wrongful death. They know there is more at stake than just a legal judgement, that clients often need counsel across a range of problems and issues that go beyond the particulars of their case. They value the people they represent as deserving of justice and respect.

The lawyers of Shiver Hamilton also prepare all their cases to go to trial, alerting insurance companies and corporate defendants that they won’t settle for anything less than full justice for their clients. Preparing the case for trial is the only way to consistently achieve the best outcomes for clients. Opposing counsel must know that Shiver Hamilton’s clients are represented by skilled and experienced trial lawyers with all the necessary legal resources to win jury judgments.

Shiver Hamilton hired a vocational rehabilitation expert to review our client’s medical records and determine his medical and rehabilitative needs.  This expert worked closely with our client not only for use at trial but, perhaps more importantly, to help our client adjust to live without his leg.  The vocational expert worked directly with our client’s treating physicians to evaluate the appropriate and necessary treatment to reduce the pain from the amputation as well as ensure the prosthetic leg fit properly.

The case was set for trial in the DeKalb County State Court and Shiver Hamilton made one last settlement offer to the insurance company.

Shortly before trial, the insurance company accepted Plaintiffs settlement offer and settled the case for $3,750,000. This settlement allowed the client to get the medical care he needed and support his family.