In just 11 months, Partner Justin Shapiro secured a $16 million settlement for his clients, an elderly couple from New York who was savagely attacked while staying in a South Miami hotel. That day the individual defendant walked into the hotel, through the lobby, straight into an elevator to the 7th floor where he knocked on the couple’s guestroom door. As soon as the husband opened the door, the individual punched him in the face, lunged at him and pushed his way inside the guestroom before biting him on the back of his neck and strangling him. They fought for five long minutes before the assailant turned his aggression to the wife, chasing her outside the hallway, punched her in the face, knocking her to the ground.
At that time, three hotel and security employees showed up in the elevator. They stood directly in front of the aggressor as he continued to viciously beat up on our client. Our client was crying for help and bleeding profusely, but shockingly the employees did nothing. They let the attacker dragged his victim by the hair onto the elevator, she was helplessly screaming at the top of lungs as the elevator door closed.
Nobody knew on which floor the elevator had stopped but CCTV captured the rest of the most brutal sexual assault that took place five floors below. On the footage, the assailant is seen forcefully dragging the wife out of the elevator as she tried to fend him off. Ultimately he overpowered her, and punched her across the face over 30 times as he stood above her. In utter savagery he bit her face so violently that a large chunk of flesh ripped off her forehead. She was almost lifeless. He then ordered her to perform oral sex on him. She resisted him. He punched her again and again, strangled her, until she had no choice but to do what he said. It lasted several minutes before he forced himself on top of her and raped her in the middle of the hallway. When the police finally arrived to stop the attack, our client had endured the most horrific ten minutes of her life where she was raped, defaced and mutilated.
Outrageous Hotel Operation
Justin Shapiro’s investigation shed light on one of the worst cases of inadequate security our firm has ever seen. The gross negligence in the operation of the hotel was indefensible when for years, the hotel had been an absolute warzone of violent crime. Guests were attacked, robbed, shot, and held at gunpoint. In the 10-month period preceding the attack on our clients alone, the hotel saw 4 Armed Robberies (all victims held at gunpoint), 3 Shootings (1 guest was shot 4 times leaving the lobby), 2 Strong-Arm Robberies, 5 Assaults with bodily harm, and 3 Aggravated Batteries. At depositions, ownership and management admitted to being fully aware they were operating a cesspool of violent crime. Months before our clients were attacked, the owner stated in a damning and equally unbelievable email: “I have owned the hotel for over 10 years and have not experienced such a rapid crime rate…I am fearful for my employees and guests.” Management testified that several employees quit their job “out of fear for their safety at work.”
Despite the rampant violent crime, the hotel maintained grossly inadequate security measures by refusing to follow security recommendations from both their private security contractor and the Miami-Dade Police Department to have multiple armed guards at the Hotel at all times. The Hotel’s security contractor testified that the Hotel refused to follow their recommendations because they wanted to save money on their budget. Instead, the Hotel employed only one unarmed guard to patrol this massive hotel property with 7 floors, 166 guest rooms, 2 parking lots, lobby, swimming pool, and common areas.
“Our Firm’s statewide activity is in response to the growing practice of civil liability for criminal acts. Many of our recent verdicts and settlements arise from hotel and residence complex defendants who have been lax in the level of their security or failure to provide security at all.”
–Ira H. Leesfield
Leesfield Scolaro holds record verdicts and settlements throughout the State of Florida in negligent security cases including:
- $40.58 million verdict for an assault in an unlit parking garage
- $3 million for paraplegic injuries to a client shot at an unguarded ATM
- $1.5 million award to a cruise ship passenger sexually assaulted in her cabin by a crew member
- $16 million for couple assaulted in South Miami hotel
- $3.2 million recovery for foreign college student attacked at his dormitory resulting in neurological injuries and paralysis
“With over 45 years of experience, utilizing top flight experts and substantial resources, our firm has forged new law, creative results, and unmatched turnaround time for victims of crime. Unfortunately, public accommodations/negligent security cases are on the increase as the state grows and property owners reduce security measures. Let’s work together on your next negligent security case.”
For further significant results, visit our verdicts and settlements page
Back to back 8-figure recoveries
With this latest result, Leesfield Scolaro has secured back-to-back 8-figure recoveries in highly public and catastrophic cases. Click here to read our recent article on Adam Rose’s $95 million verdict.