Teenager shot by gang member at apartment complex after security guard fails to break up gang party or warn residents of danger. $1 million policy limits opened up after insurer fails to settle.
- Case Name: Antonio Steward vs. Stratus Security Services, Inc.
- Court and Case Number: San Bernardino Superior Court / SCVSS145226
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, June 13, 2013
- Date Action was Filed: Friday, December 22, 2006
- Type of Case: Assault and Battery, Premises Liability, Security
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. John Pacheco
Plaintiffs: Antonio Steward, 17
Defendants: Stratus Security Services, Inc.
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $55,151,509
- Net Verdict or Award: $29,868,461
Award as to each Defendant:
This was a trifurcated proceeding. The First Phase was "Alter Ego", Second Phase "Liability" and the Third Phase "Damages".
In phase one, the court found that both corporations were one and the same entity and that both individuals would be held personally liable.
- Contributory/Comparative Negligence: The jury apportioned fault 49% on the security defendants, 49% on the defendant shooter, Roosevelt Turner and 2% on the plaintiff.
Past Medical Expenses: $545,022
Past Loss of Earnings: $159,473
Future Medical Expenses: $3,208,760
Future Loss of Earnings: $1,306,787
Past non-economic damages: $4,931,467
Future non-economic damages: $45,000,000
- Jury Deliberation Time: Liability - 2 hours; Damages - 3 hours.
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Post-trial motions are pending.
Attorney for the Plaintiff: Gary A. Dordick, A Law Corporation by Gary A. Dordick, Beverly Hills.Law Offices of James Muller by James Muller, Glendale.Law Office of Sandor C. Fuchs by Sandor Fuchs, Los Angeles.
Attorney for the Defendant: Bradley & Gmelich by Barry A. Bradley and Shirley R. Sullinger, Glendale (for defendants Stratus Security Services, Inc. and Sally Antoon).Musick, Peeler & Garrett, LLP by Scott MacDonald, Laura Kim and Adam D. Wieder, Los Angeles (for defendants Sherif Antoon and A&A Protective Services, Inc.).
Plaintiff’s Medical Experts: Lawrence Miller, M.D., physiatrist, Santa Monica.Graham Woolf, M.D., gastroenterologist, Los Angeles.
Defendant's Medical Experts: Thomas Hedge, M.D., rehabilitation, Northridge.
Plaintiff's Technical Experts: Joanne Latham, M.S., life care, Encino.Jubin Merati, economist, Los Angeles.R. Bruce Ramm, security expert, Orange.Gregory Lee, violent crimes/gang expert, Pebble Beach.Karl Schulze, CPA/alter ego expert, Los Angeles.Keith Vinnecour, prosthetics, West Hills.
Defendant's Technical Experts: Constantine Boukidis, Ph.D., economist, Los Angeles.Gene Bruno, life care, Encino.Ricardo Chavez, prosthetics, Northridge.Russell M. Fransden, Esq., alter ego Expert, Pasadena.Gregg McCrary, violent crimes/gang expert, Fredericksburg, VA.John Reith, CPA/alter ego, Pasadena.Douglas H. Bryant, security expert, Moorpark.
Facts and Background
Facts and Background:
Plaintiff was a 17-year old high school student who lived at Aventerra Apartment complex in Fontana. On August 26, 2006 he was sitting on the stairs of the apartment complex at approximately 12:30 a.m., hanging out with two friends. At the same time, a large group of males that appeared to be gang members were having a party outside one of the apartment units, in violation of numerous house rules for the apartment complex.
The Stratus Security Guard, Darrell Hill, approached the individuals having the party. Thereafter, Darrell Hill left the area, walked past the plaintiff and went to his car which was located in one of the other apartment complexes. Thereafter, plaintiff was shot nine times by a member of the local Crips gang.
That defendant Stratus Security Inc., its owner Sally Antoon and A&A Security Services and its owner Sherif Antoon were all essentially one and the same entities, with significant comingling and overlapping of assets, employees and effort.
That the security guard failed to perform the duties that were required of him by not breaking up the party, not identifying who the ten individuals were visiting, not calling 911 to report what he believed to be gang members partying on the premises. That he failed to remain in the area to observe and report and when he left the area walking by the plaintiff, he failed to warn and failed to advise plaintiff that he was not permitted under apartment rules to loiter on the stairs after 10:00 p.m. Plaintiff further contends that one of the individuals at the party was the same individual that approached plaintiff and shot him nine times.
That Stratus and A&A were separate corporations and that all corporate formalities were followed.
That the Stratus Security Guard was only a “courtesy patrol” and his only duties were to be the “eyes and ears” of management and to do various minor activities like close the pool at 10:00 p.m. and close the laundry room after 10:00 p.m. That the courtesy patrol was only there to report improper activity to the management and not to prevent crime.
Defendants also disputed that the individuals the security guard had approached at the outdoor party were the same individuals that shot plaintiff. Finally, defendants argued that the shooting was not foreseeable and that it was an unpreventable random act of violence.
Injuries and Other Damages
Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Mulitple gunshot wounds to chest and stomach as well as testicles, scrotum, shoulder and foot. Plaintiff had approximately 40% of his stomach removed and underwent 56 surgical procedures. Plaintiff will undergo numerous additional internal surgeries in the future. Both legs were amputated above the knee due to gangrene.
Plaintiff suffers from shoulder pain, back pain, stomach pain, rectal pain, and phantom pain from the missing limbs. Plaintiff must eat a very restrictive diet and suffers from extensive digestive issues.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $545,022.34 (Stipulated)
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: Future Life Care Plan $3,488,767
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $159,473
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $1,306,787
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: $1,000,000 policy limits demand which was rejected, then a CCP 998 demand for $8,500,000 which was also rejected.
- Plaintiff Demand during Trial: Offered to settle the case for $10,000,000 during the deliberations on the liability phase.
- Defendant Offer during Trial: $1,000,000 at start; $2,000,000 while the jury was deliberating on the liability phase.