A Georgia Premises Liability Case where a Hotel will now Pay $ 1.17 Million for the Shooting of a Guest

hotel-fasade-3-1341162-mIn Atlanta, Georgia on Pollard Boulevard on November 10, 2010 at approximately 2 a.m. at the Country Inn & Suites, Heinz Fojutowski, who had made a reservation and paid in advance online to stay at the hotel, was attempting to check into the hotel only to find that the front desk worker on duty had locked the front door.  It would later be found out that this was for the clerk’s own protection.  Since Mr. Fojutowski was not able to check into the hotel, he returned to his car whereby a man with a gun approached him from behind demanding money and the keys to the car. The gunman took both the keys and the money and then shot Mr. Fojutowski and fled in the now stolen vehicle.

Mr. Fojutowski was left bleeding in the parking lot with his intestines laying outside of his body. Mr. Fojutowski had a traveling friend with him who called 911 and used a t-shirt to put his intestines back into his body and hold pressure on the wounded area to control the bleeding until help arrived. When help arrived, Fojutowski was transported to Grady Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia where he underwent many surgeries for injuries to his back and his internal organs. He stayed at Grady for eleven (11) days and his total medical expenses exceeded $ 500,000.00. At the time of trial, Mr. Fojutowski was still using a cane for walking and it was claimed that the injuries he suffered were disabling.

The case against the hotel, Fojutowski v. Bhagywanti, No. 2012 –CV-04397-FF, was based upon the legal theory of Premises Liability and that the hotel was negligent in failing to keep the premises safe for its guests and invitees. Specifically, the hotel, prior to this incident, provided onsite security, but in an effort to budget had cut out the security that it used to provide onsite. The hotel argued that the security did not matter and that this incident was unforeseeable, and that the outcome would not have been any different had the hotel provided onsite security.

A Clayton County State Court Jury would disagree as it awarded a $ 3.68 Million Dollar Verdict and apportioned 32% of the verdict to the owner of the hotel for failing to provide adequate security. 58% of the liability was placed on Tamario Wise who was the shooter, but not a defendant in the case. Wise is now serving fifteen (15) life sentences for this and other heinous crimes that he had committed as the leader of the gang called the Jack Boys.


A Slip and Fall in an Icy Parking Lot Yields a $ 700K Jury Verdict in Fulton County, Georgia for the Plaintiff ~ part two

parking lot with snow for dec 13 blogThis is a continuation of my blog post titled, “A Slip and Fall in an Icy Parking Lot Yields a $ 700K Jury Verdict in Fulton County, Georgia for the Plaintiff ~ part one.”

The Defendants Transwestern and Istar made several claims against Walden for failure to maintain the property properly under the circumstances and for failing to have proper insurance. It was disclosed in mediation that Walden did in fact fulfill its portion of its contractual duties to maintain the sidewalk and other walkways in the front of the building.

What was at question was whether or not Walden adequately maintained the parking spaces in the lot of the building. There were thousands of spaces to maintain, approximately 200,000, and it was Walden’s contention that it was able to maintain approximately one-half which would have been 100,000.

On November 17 the jury trial began in front of Judge Myra Dixon of the State Court of Fulton County, Georgia. What is interesting is that the Defendants had been vigorously fighting with each other the entire time prior to trial but when it came time to try the case they were no longer at each other’s throats but were actually complimentary to each other with how well the situation had been handled by each party under the circumstances. Nevertheless, the parties were again fighting by the end of the trial.


A Slip and Fall in an Icy Parking Lot Yields a $ 700K Jury Verdict in Fulton County, Georgia for the Plaintiff ~ part one

snow sign for december 10  blogOn December 15, 2010 outside the Perimeter by the Chattahoochee River in Georgia at an office complex the Plaintiff, Layla Bioys, was participating with her coworkers in a company event when it began to snow with sleet and freezing rain earlier that afternoon.

Since temperatures had been below or at freezing for the day, the on duty security officer spread the chemical melt ice on the parking lot and the walkways. At approximately 5:00 p.m. that day a management company official alerted the tenants in the building via. email of the bad weather and told them to remain on the pathways that had been duly treated with ice melt.

At approximately 6:00 p.m., the Plaintiff as well as others that had been in attendance for the meeting that day left the premises. However, when the Plaintiff was stepping off the sidewalk she began to slide. Even though she began to slide, she continued across the parking lot and then fell where there was a patch of black ice that she did not see.

Her fall resulted in a fracture of her ankle whereby she had to to undergo surgery for her injuries. Her surgery involved having screws and a steel plate placed in her ankle. She then had to have another surgery to remove the hardware from her body at a later date. Her total medical bills were approximately $ 60,000.

The parties were unable to resolve the issue so the Plaintiff filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court in Georgia in March of 2012 naming the management company, Transwestern, and the property owner, Istar, et.al., Inc., as Defendants in the lawsuit. Both Transwestern and Istar placed the blame on the Plaintiff and the security company, Walden, who was in charge of placing the ice melt on the property, and, therefore, brought Walden into the lawsuit as a thirty-party Defendant.


The Parents of their Slain Cobb County, Georgia Daughter who was Attending Auburn University seek $ 1 Million Dollars For Inadequate Security on Campus

parking lot blog oct 7 2014As I have stated in my website about Premises Liability, Premises Liability is not just limited to Slip and Fall Cases and can often apply to cases in which there was Inadequate Security when the property owner or manager knew or should have known about the dangers of the property and did not make the property safe for its guests or invitees.

In the case in point, Lauren Burk, the now deceased daughter of Jim Burk and Viviane Guerchon, on the 4th day of March, 2008 was kidnapped from a parking lot on the Auburn University Campus. Young Lauren Burk was a High School Graduate of Walton in Cobb County, Georgia in 2007, and a freshman at Auburn at the time she was kidnapped.

After the kidnapping Ms. Burk was located on a road four (4) miles North of Campus where she was dying from a gun shot wound in her back.  It should be duly noted that Courtney Lockhart, a soldier who had been dishonorably discharged, was arrested in Alabama three (3) days after the abduction.  He was later convicted by a jury for the crime of the death of Lauren Burk, and sentenced to death for the commission of this crime.

Lauren Burk’s parents are making a claim similar to another blog that I posted about a death at a Motel 6 Hotel in Georgia where the parents are seeking damages under a similar theory as the case in point; Inadequate Security in a Known Dangerous Location.

The difference in this case, however, is that the parents are seeking damages from the Alabama Board of Adjustment in the amount of $ 1 Million Dollars for the Wrongful Death of their daughter under the theory that Auburn University had made a decision, the wrong decision according to the parents of Lauren Burk, to merge the University’s police force with the City of Auburn’s police force to save money, and this decision was an alleged contributing factor to the Inadequate Security of the University’s Parking Lot where the kidnapping occurred resulting in the death of Lauren Burk.


A Different Kind of Premises Liability Case as a Woman Sues a Hotel in East Cobb for Dangerous Bed Bug Bites

bed bugs for september 5 blogAs I have discussed on my website, Premises Liability is the duty of the owner or occupier of land or property to keep its premises safe for guests or visitors and, in some cases, even trespassers.  Many times when we think of Premises Liability, Slip and Fall cases come to mind.

As I have discussed in prior blog posts, however, Premises Liability can be anytime in which the owner or occupier of property does not keep its premises safe not just from a slip and fall incident, but also safe in terms of making sure that crime is kept to a minimum as in the Motel 6 case I discussed in my prior blog where a young man was shot and killed on the premises, and the owner of the property knew of the dangerous conditions of the property.

The case I will discuss today is a Premises Liability case of a different nature.

In this case the Plaintiff, Ms. Dashsawn Diaz, spent three (3) days at Crestwood Suites in Marietta, Georgia.  Each day during her stay when she woke up she said that it felt like something had been eating her. She also had scars all over her body.  People would ask her about the scars, but she had no explanation.

Later, the scars became infected on one of her legs that caused her to be hospitalized. During her hospitalization the doctors considered amputating her leg due to the nature of the infection.  Diaz learned that the wounds on her leg were from bed bugs that had bitten her while she was staying at the hotel, and it was the wounds that caused the infection that nearly cost her her leg.


A Jury in Georgia sides with the Plaintiff against Wal-Mart by Awarding $ 1.3 Million in a Premises Liability Case

wet floor sign for august 26 blogIn August of 2010, Kelly Rorro, a young mother at age 22 and 8 months pregnant with her second child, was shopping at a Wal-Mart in Hinesville, GA when she Slipped and Fell hard on a greasy substance on the floor, injuring her back .

Ms. Rorro began having contractions after the fall and was taken to the emergency room by her father.  Fortunately, she was able to carry her unborn child to term and have a successful delivery of the baby thereafter.

Unfortunately, Ms. Rorro, after the delivery of her baby, was diagnosed with an annular fissure which is a back injury that causes a great deal of a pain that is not able to be corrected by surgery.  It was determined that this injury was from the fall at Walmart, and Ms. Rorro and her husband, Mr. Curtis Rorro, sued the store for Failing to Keep Its Premises Safe.

Ms. Rorro was on pain medication until she sought treatment that included a spinal cord simulator which is a device that is insert surgically and sends electronic messages to the brain to block pain. At trial, the jury heard evidence that it was estimated that the cost of this simulator over time would be approximately $ 730,000.00. The jury also heard evidence from the defense arguing that it was unlikely that Ms. Rorro would need this simulator for that length of time.

On August 18, 2014, the jury, after a four (4) day trial and only four (4) hours of deliberation, returned a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff, Ms. Rorro, who at the time of trial was age 26, for $ 1,286.00.00, for her back injury, and for $ 100,000.00 to Ms. Rorro’s husband, Mr. Curtis Rorro, an Army Solider who fought in Iraq until he was discharged for injuries sustained while on duty in combat, for loss of consortium. At the time of trial, the couple had 3 children as well.


A Jury in Atlanta, Georgia award $ 5.1M to the Parents of a Young Man who was Killed at a Motel 6

motel photo for blog may 21Mr. Jeffrey Howard Todd, age 27, was in town for a job interview and staying at a Motel 6 when two men, Jimmy Teemer, age 17, and Lyndon B. Johnson, Jr., now age 23, entered Mr. Todd’s room with a gun attempting to rob Mr. Todd.  Mr. Todd was also armed and gunfire was exchanged with one of the two men whereby Mr. Todd and Mr. Teemer died at the scene.

Mr. Todd’s parents filed a lawsuit against Motel 6 and its parent company, Accor North America, claiming that the motel had failed to keep the premises safe as there had been a number of holdups and violent crimes on and around the property. A Fulton County Jury agreed and awarded the Todd’s $ 5.1 million dollars for the wrongful death of their son.

In Georgia, an owner or operator of a premises has a duty to keep the premises safe for its guests and invitees. This includes, but is not limited to, keeping hotels, motels, shopping malls, apartment complexes, condominiums, and the like safe.  The Plaintiffs (the Todds) in the case had to prove that there was a duty to keep the premises safe, that there was a breach of that duty by the Defendant (Motel 6), and that the breach caused damage to the Plaintiffs.

Under Georgia Law, as stated above, the Defendant had a duty to keep the premises safe for young Mr. Todd as a guest on the premises.  In this case, the Plaintiffs were able to prove that the Defendant knew of the dangerous conditions of the premises and, therefore, breached its duty to keep the premises safe. The Plaintiffs furthermore showed that the breach caused damage to the Plaintiff which was the wrongful death of their son.

This is a tragic story, and my heart goes out to the Todd’s for losing their son. The Todd’s had a right to bring a wrongful death action in this case under the theory of premises liability, and to show that their son, only age 27, will now not be able to enjoy all the wonderful things there are in life to enjoy. As we all know, money never brings back our loved ones, but it will serve as a message, in this case, that it is imperative that owners and operators keep their premises safe for their invites and guests.


Family in Georgia Recovers a Total of $ 2,790,000 for a Slip and Fall at Kroger Grocery Store

picture for blog post march 31 2014The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld a Jury verdict for a family for a total of $ 2,790,000 for a Slip and Fall at a Kroger Grocery Store in Georgia.  The woman who fell recovered $ 2,640,000 for injuries she sustained when she fell at a Kroger Grocery Store while she was walking on her way to the check out isle and walking through the floral area, when she fell on a liquid substance on the floor.

The Husband was awarded a total of $ 150,000 for loss of consortium.   The Georgia Supreme Court agreed with the finding that the liquid had been on the floor for a long time and, therefore, the store had constructive knowledge of the liquid prior to the slip and fall.  This is similar to the case that I discussed in my last blog post about the woman who was injured in a condominium parking lot in DeKalb County and was a awarded $ 840 in damages.

As I have stated in my website, not all Premises Liability cases are slip and fall cases, but all slip and fall cases are Premises Liability Cases, and a majority of the Premises Liability cases are slip and fall cases according to the Georgia Supreme Court.  The Georgia Supreme Court has clearly stated that in order for a Plaintiff to recover in a Premises Liability Case that the Plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the injury caused by a hazard on an owner or occupier of land’s premises or approaches that the owner or occupier should have removed in the exercise of ordinary care for the safety of the invited public.

The Georgia Supreme Court has further stated that when a premises liability cause of action is based on a trip and fall or slip and fall claim, that the general test comes down to two specific elements that the Plaintiff must show by a preponderance of the evidence: 1.)  The Defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard; and (2) The Plaintiff, despite exercising ordinary care for his or her own personal safety, lacked knowledge of the hazard due to the defendant’s actions or to conditions under the defendant’s control.

These principles devolve from the Official Code of Georgia Annotated Section 51-31, which provides in pertinent part that: When an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe (emphasis mine).


Jury in Georgia awards Plaintiff $ 840K in Premises Liability Case for Parking Lot Injury

parking lot photo for march 27 blogRecently, in DeKalb County, Georgia a Jury awarded a woman $840K for an injury that she suffered after tripping over a parking lot hump in a condominium parking lot.  The woman did not live there and was visiting when she parked in her friend’s spot, tripped over a parking lot pipe hump and injured her left elbow.  She was left handed and never fully recovered.

The Plaintiff offered to settle the case before the Jury verdict for $ 350K and the Defendant countered with $100K.  According the Plaintiff’s Attorney, the Plaintiff was awarded everything she asked for down to the penny and the Jury was very sympathetic to her since she never regained full use of her arm after the injury.

As I have discussed in my prior blog post about Premises Liability Law in Georgia and on my Premises Liability Page on my Website, Premises Liability Cases can happen anywhere, at any time and to anyone.  It is the duty of the owner of the property to keep the premises safe for its guests and invitees.

Condominiums and Apartment Buildings alike are responsible to keep the conditions safe.  This verdict does surprise me a little, however, since Georgia tends to be very conservative when it comes to Premises Liability Cases which is most likely why the Defendant offered so little to settle this case.  The Plaintiff’s persistence paid off in this case and the finder of fact, the Jury, was sympathetic to this person who suffered a permanent disability as a result of a dangerous condition.

This case may have been different if the actual tenant of the building slipped and fell since it was her parking spot and the finder of fact may have found that she knew, or should have known, about this dangerous condition, and, therefore, the owner of the parking lot, or the Condominium Association, was not responsible for any injury.  In this case, it was a guest of the actual tenant and the finder of fact must have found that she did not know or had no reason to know of the dangerous condition.


Premises Liability at the GA Dome: The Premises Liability Law also applies in Canton, GA

slip and fall imageA woman broke her ankle at the Georgia Dome when she was directed by a security guard to a shorter line and then fell over a barricade.  She recovered over $ 200,000.00 in damages, and was held partially responsible in the incident since she had been drinking.  The law that governs these types of cases in Georgia is called Premises Liability.  Similarly, these same Premises Liability laws apply in Canton, GA to retailers for shoppers in their stores.

For example, retailers can be held responsible for slip and fall in their stores, or if an item falls off a shelf in a store and strikes a customer.  I had a similar case against a retailer where my client was standing in the toy isle and was struck in the head by a large box with a very heavy toy item that had been improperly stocked on the shelf of the store.  My client suffered head injuries, frequent headaches, lost wages, pain and suffering, and her husband had losses of consortium.  The retailer was held responsible and settled for an undisclosed amount.

You can read more about the woman who injured her ankle at the Georgia Dome.  Although in this case the Defendant was the security company, the Georgia Dome could have been held responsible in a similar fashion for Premises Liability if it was found that the Georgia Dome was at fault for not keeping its premises safe for invitees or guests on the premises.  As discussed in the earlier case against the retailer, the retailer was held responsible for not keeping its premises safe for its invitees and guests, and, therefore, acknowledged liability and paid for my client’s past, present, and future damages.