June 30, 2011 3 Comments
Today’s hand down list from the Mississippi Supreme Court includes a case affirming a $4,000,000 jury verdict. Check out Intown Lessee Associates, LLC, et al v. Michael Howard and Shannon Poole.
Howard and Poole rented a hotel room from InTown. Howard left the room for a period of time. When he returned three men came through the door. The men hit Howard in the face with the gun and pointed the gun at Poole’s head. Howard and Poole were treated for various injuries including Howard undergoing facial reconstruction surgery. Both Howard and Poole were diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.
At trial, plaintiffs presented numerous witnesses. One police officer testified he had been called to the location at least 30 times and advised the manager of InTown that the crime problem on the property could be eliminated by hiring professional security. A lieutenant with JPD testified about prostitution, drugs and robberies on the property. The lieutenant also testified he instructed the manager that InTown should be informing its customers of the problems occurring on the property and the manager had indicated that InTown would have no customers if such a warning were given.
The property manager for InTown testified that one of InTown’s duties was “to ensure that customers were provided adequate protection from crime that would occur on the property.” The manager also testified that he asked his regional manager to provide security and was told that InTown didn’t have enough money to hire armed security.
A commander from JPD testified that in the 2 1/2 year period prior to Howard and Poole’s assault, 8 armed robberies, 32 auto thefts, 55 auto burglaries, 6 hold-up alarms, 15 simple assaults, 3 business robberies, 4 men with a gun, 2 vandalisms, 48 disturbances and 12 threats had occurred on the property of InTown.
Plaintiff’s economist placed Poole’s future loss of wages at 574,209 to $1,922,589. Plaintiffs’ medical provider estimated future medical expenses for each plaintiff in excess of $500,000.
At the close of plaintiff’s case, InTown rested without presenting evidence. The jury returned a verdict of $4,000,000. Despite several allegations of error by the defendants, a unanimous Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed.
So what did the defendant do wrong? I am not getting specific because I try these cases and don’t want to help the guys on the other side. However, I will say this……whether you wear a white hat or a black hat, you will probably be shocked by the number of times the Court noted that InTown did not object on key issues. Maybe they didn’t have a defense at all. From reading the opinion, it sure looks like they didn’t put up much of one.
Congrats to plaintiff’s attorney, Ashley Ogden, and his trial team.