Rafi Law Firm settled a wrongful death case this month for $6,000,000.
On July 30, 2016, Larry Grigsby was visiting friends who lived at an apartment complex in Austell, Georgia. When it was time to go home, Mr. Grigsby loaded his kids into the backseat and started to drive towards the exit. Without warning, a bullet flew into the car and struck Mr. Grigsby in the head. He lost control of the car, crashed into a tree, and was killed. Mr. Grigsby died as his 6-year old daughter and 8-year old son sat in the backseat and watched. Click here to see the 11Alive News story on the shooting.
In April 2017, we took on the case. The very first thing we do in every case is this: we send a letter to all possible defendants telling them to save/not destroy any evidence. This letter, while routine, is extremely important, because unless you tell the defendants you may file a lawsuit against them so they need to save everything, they may be able to destroy evidence–unintentionally or even intentionally with no penalties.
After we sent the save/not destroy evidence letter, we got to work on the case. We spoke with police and residents and learned that in the 4 years before Mr. Grigsby was shot, the complex had:
- 1 homicide (other than Mr. Grigsby’s)
- 8 gun-related crimes
- 2 aggravated assaults
- 9 robberies
- 24 assaults and batteries
- 18 drug-related crimes
- 10 home invasions
We also located 2 former employees: the regional property manager and the complex’s everyday property manager. This is why I believe we won this case: we were able to get 2 former employees to give us Affidavits, which are signed statements made under oath. This is the Property Manager’s Statement:
The former employees’ statements were absolutely shocking. Importantly, the former employees had no ill will against their former boss, they were just good people who were willing to tell the truth, even if what they had to say did not help their old boss. I give those 2 former employees a lot of credit for doing the right thing.
After we had all the evidence we needed, we filed a lawsuit in the State Court of DeKalb County, Georgia. Once we filed, we asked the apartment complex to give us all the information and evidence that we had told them to save in our April 2017 letter. The problem was the apartment complex said it did not have anything. It seemed the only documents the apartment complex had was from after Mr. Grigsby’s shooting. That just made no sense, so we started to dig deeper.
We went back to the former Property Mangers and asked them what information the apartment complex had on the day it was sold. This is what they told us the complex should have had:
- Emails from employees to the owner about shootings and guns, drugs and drug-dealers, and how the property was dangerous and lacked proper security
- Daily activity reports about crime, dangerous activity, and lack of security
- Tenant files
- Correspondence from tenants
- Incident reports
- Security logs
- Police reports
- Maintenance records
- Building/apartment repair records
- Building/apartment inspection records
- Financial records
- Employee files
- Correspondence from employees
- Training records
- Policy manuals
- Employee schedules
- Work orders
- Contracts, bills, and receipts from vendors
- Correspondence from vendors
- Computers with documents and emails on them
That is a pretty long list, but the apartment complex had not given us any of this!
So, next question: why did the apartment complex not have all of this evidence. We investigated and learned the owner sold the complex in May 2017, a month after we sent them our letter to save/not destroy evidence. When the complex was sold, the owner destroyed everything.
Once we learned this, we prepared 2 things:
- a Motion to the Court asking to Strike the apartment complex’s Answer–this means we asked the Court to rule that the apartment complex would lose the case, because they had wrongly destroyed so much evidence. To read our Motion, click here.
- a Demand for $6,000,000, which was the total amount of insurance coverage the apartment complex had. Because the apartment complex was sold, it had no assets or other money–all that was left was the insurance money. To read our Demand, click here.
We filed the Motion with the Court and sent the Demand to the apartment complex’s lawyers on the same day–it was an intentional 1-2 punch.
On the last day before our offer to settle the case for $6,000,000 expired, the apartment complex accepted and settled. We are of course very proud of our work on this case and the outcome we obtained.
But, we wish we never had to work this case. We wish the apartment complex would have done something, anything to prevent Mr. Grigsby’s shooting. I want to end this post by bringing it back to Mr. Grigsby and his children, the victims in this case. In Georgia, the amount of damages in a wrongful death case is supposed to be the value of the person’s life through their own eyes–in other words, the amount of damages is how much Mr. Grigsby’s life was worth to… Mr. Grigsby. Here is what we told the apartment complex’s insurance company about Mr. Grigsby’s life and how much he wanted to live it:
Mr. Grigsby was involved and active with his then-8-year old son and 6-year-old daughter’s lives. He would take them to Centennial Olympic Park to splash in the water fountains and listen to concerts. Mr. Grigsby and the kids would often go to Sparkles Family Fun Center in Kennesaw, Georgia, where they would roller skate and play games. When the weather was warm, he would pack up the car and take the kids to Lake Acworth to sit on the beach and play in the water. Mr. Grigsby and his family spent many nights at the Picture Show at Merchants Exchange in Marietta, Georgia, where they would watch movies together. When carnivals and fairs would pop up around town, Mr. Grigsby would always make sure to take the kids.
Mr. Grigsby organized big parties for his children’s birthdays—family and friends would come over to play with the kids and socialize with the adults while Mr. Grigsby manned the grill, making food for everyone. When he was not cooking, Mr. Grigsby loved to eat out. Some of his favorite restaurants were PF Chang’s, Cheesecake Factory, and Copeland’s. When he was feeling nostalgic, he would drive into Atlanta to eat and visit friends at JR Crickets, where he worked when he was younger.
Mr. Grigsby also spent time visiting his father in Tennessee, and they would go fishing together. Mr. Grigsby followed NFL football and rooted for the Falcons and the Titans. He also kept up with what was going on in the NBA and had been hoping the Los Angeles Lakers would make a comeback.
Like most people, Mr. Grigsby spent a lot of time at work; but contrary to conventional wisdom, Mr. Grigsby truly enjoyed his work and his coworkers. He worked as a technician at Mirion Technology for 10 years, where he built equipment to detect radiation. He was proud of his work and commitment to his company. Mr. Grigsby was close with many coworkers, and you would find him at all the company picnics and outings.
These are the “highlights” of Mr. Grigsby’s life—the things he would likely look back on during the twilight of his life and remember fondly. What is more difficult to put into words are all the “little” moments Mr. Grigsby will never again experience—both the good and bad that would have made up the rest of his life. Here are some of those things:
- Feeling relaxed drinking morning coffee at the kitchen table
- Feeling restless as he tosses and turns trying to go to sleep on a hot night
- Feeling sad or being upset and even crying
- Feeling excited and joyful and even crying
- Feeling free by rolling down the windows and driving on the highway, feeling the wind hit his face
- Feeling proud when his children brought home their report cards
- Feeling confident when giving his son pointers before his first date
- Feeling anxious waiting to meet his daughter’s first date
- Feeling emotional while taking photos with his kids at their proms
- Feeling nervous dropping his kids off at college
- Feeling honored walking his daughter down the aisle; and feeling the same as he ties his son’s bow tie before his wedding
- Feeling happy on family vacations
- Feeling scared and worried about the afterlife
- Feeling thankful to have lived a full and complete life
These are just some of the everyday feelings that Mr. Grigsby will never experience again. Mr. Grigsby has been deprived of the opportunity to continue to live his life and share in the lives of the people he loved. Our Firm was more than honored to work on this case and reach an outcome that will hopefully change the lives of Mr. Grigsby’s children in a positive way. Still, it is a case that never should have happened, if only the apartment complex did the right thing.