The Rafi Law Firm recently secured a confidential 6-figure settlement for a client who was shot at an apartment complex in College Park, Georgia. Above is a picture our client took of him and Mike Rafi while at mediation.
On January 18, 2015, our client (“AP”) was visiting a friend who lived at an apartment complex on Godby Road in College Park, Georgia. AP was watching the Colts and the Patriots play in the NFL playoffs (the game where the Patriots used deflated balls) when there was a knock at the door. Between AP and his friend, AP was closest to the door. AP looked at his friend, and she gave him a nod as if to say “sure, open the door.” AP got up and opened the door. The man on the other side of the door pulled a gun and told AP, “You know what this is. Give me what you got.” AP tried to calm the man down, but he pointed the gun at AP. AP pushed the man and tried to close the door. The man pushed the door open and shot AP 5 times. AP fell to the ground The man ran away, and to this day, the shooter’s identity is unknown.
As for AP, he dragged himself back into the house. His friend called 911 and AP and his friend waited until paramedics and police arrived. AP was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital, and over the course of the next 11 days, AP had numerous surgeries.
We immediately began our investigation of the apartment complex, the crime there, and AP’s shooting. Here are some of the highlights that we learned:
- 2012-2013: approximately 145 crimes were reported according to police records—approximately 1 crime every 2.5 days, on average.
- 2014: approximately 120 crimes were reported—approximately 1 crime every 3 days, on average. These crimes included:2 murders; 3 aggravated assaults; 5 armed robberies; 8 assaults and batteries; 1 carjacking; 32 robberies thefts, and/or burglaries; and 26 total crimes involving guns.
- April 2014: the complex had one part-time security officer, but did not have any dedicated security personnel.
- April 13, 2014: Malcom Scott, a 24-year old man was shot and killed by the community mailboxes while visiting a friend.
- July 18, 2014: police responded to an armed robbery and learned “two subjects have been terrorizing the neighborhood” and one was carrying a firearm. Police also located two bullet holes in the front window of an apartment. Police discussed their findings with an employee from the complex.
- June 20, 2014: apartment complex received an email from a tenant stating, “There are gang members living here shooting guns and causing problems. Somebody got murdered by the mailbox and the guys who did it still walking around. There is full-blown prostitution apartment going on in the A building. The security guard hangs out with gang members.”
- August 5, 2014: an assailant armed with a gun threatened to shoot a resident if he did not give the assailant money.
- September 20, 2014: Complex’s security officer investigated two armed robberies of residents on the same day.
- October 2014: Complex fired its security officer.
- November 21, 2014: a resident named Haward Keneard was shot and killed at the complex.
- December 20, 2014: a resident named Veronica left two consecutive after-hours voicemail messages for management. The first voicemail said “Please call, neighbors in –6 have started shooting again” and the “There are 20 men at her door with loaded guns, already called the cops but upset and very afraid please call ASAP.”
- December 23, 2014: property manager sent an email to Fulton County Police stating:
- January 4, 2015: a resident, Ms. Hall, heard a gunshot, looked out the peephole of her front door, and saw a man pointing a gun through the door at her. Ms. Hall then ran and hid upstairs, called the police, and waited until the man with the gun left. Ms. Hall had no idea why the unknown armed person knocked on her door.
- January 5, 2015: Ms. Hall told the complex owner, she heard a gunshot and saw a man pointing a gun at her through her door. The owner told Ms. Hall he would take care of it, but no one ever followed-up.
- January 18, 2015: AP was shot five times during an attempted robbery.
Before filing the lawsuit, we told the apartment complex and its insurance company that we would consider any offers for them to settle the case, but they did not make any offers—they dared us to file the case… so we did.
After we filed the case, we deposed a host of people: the owner, property manager, two former employees, and two former tenants. We also obtained a statement given under oath from another former employee. We confronted the owner and property manager with damning information about prior crime, the owner’s refusal to make the property safe, and what his former employees said about safety and security. The team of defense lawyers who represented the apartment complex and its insurance company deposed our client and he did very well.
We were ordered by the Court to mediate the case. At mediation, we were not pleased with the defense offer, so we left and did not settle the case. A few months later, the defense team offered an amount that was 3.5 times their final offer at mediation—the amount was a life-changing amount, so we advised AP to settle the case and he accepted.
After the Lawsuit
AP moved from College Park to his hometown outside of Montgomery, Alabama to be closer with family. Since the lawsuit ended, AP bought a new car and is currently looking to buy a home. He also plans to use the settlement money to start a business.