This litigation strategy won a $ 1.1 million jury prize in Broward Circuit Court despite a seemingly minor injury

A Broward Circuit Court jury ruled in favor of a client of two Coral Gables attorneys who was attacked on a hotel property in Fort Lauderdale.

But Todd Michaels and Shelby Walton, trial attorneys at Haggard law firm in Coral Gables, said they had a strategic challenge representing Wiley Lowe, a guest at the North Beach Hotel LLC, also known as Elysium. Resort in Fort Lauderdale.

Michaels said his client suffered a serious hand injury in the attack. Yet despite the recurring pain, Lowe was still able to work full time without missing a single day for his job as a home shopping network host.

“The point to remember is that even when an injury appears to be minor, you have to put yourself in that person’s shoes,” Michaels said. “There is always a fear that you may not be able to show the jury your client’s pain. One thing we have seen is that juries do things right. You can’t be afraid to run a case because the injury doesn’t look bad. “

Now Broward Circuit Judge Sandra Perlman has delivered the jury verdict of $ 1.1 million in favor of Michaels and Walton’s client.

David Tarlow, partner of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer in Fort Lauderdale who represented the resort, did not respond to a request for comment.

And Walton said she was intrigued by opposing counsel’s argument for the defendant at trial. She said the defendant claimed he had no record of the incident in his computer system and that the resort felt the attack did not take place at all, and if it did. , the episode did not go as the client described it.

“They didn’t hire any doctors or experts about his injury or his future medical expenses – it was a factual defense of liability,” Walton said. “We produced recordings of emails, screenshots that our client had taken, and our client knew [what] the exact procedure was to report the attack to the hotel. We had a bill from the hotel with a note that said, “We are so sorry for what happened to you.”

Read the order:

“What this place needed”

This case of safety negligence and personal injury dates back to January 2016, when Lowe was a guest at the resort. And the resort was one of 15 hotels owned by a larger company that spanned an area of ​​1.5 square miles in Fort Lauderdale.

However, none of these hotels had staff between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., except for two employees who were responsible for serving up to 500 customers for requests, such as bringing clean towels. And when the employees weren’t looking after the guests, they were responsible for protecting the property, despite the lack of security knowledge.

Michaels alleged in court documents that Lowe stayed with his partner in the male-only compound and management knew that resort was his most problematic property.

“The property was known to all employees as a hotbed of prostitution activity, public sex, public orgies and Grindr dating,” Michaels said, referring to the social networking app. “There was a story of people on drugs acting erratically at night. What this place needed was people at the front desk guarding the property.

Lowe visited the hotel for his on-air work on a home shopping network in which he sold watches, often modeling the accessories with his dominant hand. Lowe went to his hotel that January evening, heard a noise coming from the courtyard, and went out to see what had caused the commotion.

Shortly after, an apparently drugged man who entered the compound’s property smashed a sprinkler brick on Lowe’s dominant hand, which broke his little finger, court documents show. When Lowe called the resort, an employee told him that a member of staff would be coming to his room. But that never happened. Lowe fell asleep, worked the next day, and when the pain persisted, he saw a doctor who fixed his broken bone.

Michaels said his client has had constant pain in his dominant hand since the criminal incident, although he was able to continue working for the commercial network.

“Although he’s not in a vegetative state, he has this pain, which is his common companion,” Michaels said. “That’s what we thought was the challenge of the case: can we explain this to the jury, where it would make sense and resonate? “

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