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A Georgia Premises Liability Case where a Hotel will now Pay $ 1.17 Million for the Shooting of a Guest

hotel-fasade-3-1341162-m.jpgIn Atlanta, Georgia on Pollard Boulevard on November 10, 2010 at approximately 2 a.m. at the Country Inn & Suites, Heinz Fojutowski, who had made a reservation and paid in advance online to stay at the hotel, was attempting to check into the hotel only to find that the front desk worker on duty had locked the front door. It would later be found out that this was for the clerk’s own protection. Since Mr. Fojutowski was not able to check into the hotel, he returned to his car whereby a man with a gun approached him from behind demanding money and the keys to the car. The gunman took both the keys and the money and then shot Mr. Fojutowski and fled in the now stolen vehicle.

Mr. Fojutowski was left bleeding in the parking lot with his intestines laying outside of his body. Mr. Fojutowski had a traveling friend with him who called 911 and used a t-shirt to put his intestines back into his body and hold pressure on the wounded area to control the bleeding until help arrived. When help arrived, Fojutowski was transported to Grady Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia where he underwent many surgeries for injuries to his back and his internal organs. He stayed at Grady for eleven (11) days and his total medical expenses exceeded $ 500,000.00. At the time of trial, Mr. Fojutowski was still using a cane for walking and it was claimed that the injuries he suffered were disabling.

The case against the hotel, Fojutowski v. Bhagywanti, No. 2012 -CV-04397-FF, was based upon the legal theory of Premises Liability and that the hotel was negligent in failing to keep the premises safe for its guests and invitees. Specifically, the hotel, prior to this incident, provided onsite security, but in an effort to budget had cut out the security that it used to provide onsite. The hotel argued that the security did not matter and that this incident was unforeseeable, and that the outcome would not have been any different had the hotel provided onsite security.

A Clayton County State Court Jury would disagree as it awarded a $ 3.68 Million Dollar Verdict and apportioned 32% of the verdict to the owner of the hotel for failing to provide adequate security. 58% of the liability was placed on Tamario Wise who was the shooter, but not a defendant in the case. Wise is now serving fifteen (15) life sentences for this and other heinous crimes that he had committed as the leader of the gang called the Jack Boys.

The case was not clear cut, however, as the Plaintiff Fojutowski had drugs on his possession as well as having in his suitcase adult novelty items. At the last minute, the Honorable Aaron Mason would rule that this evidence was inadmissible to the jury. This gave the Plaintiff Fojutowski a chance in front of this jury as the actual scene was reenacted so that the case would come alive for the jury. After the verdict was read, Plaintiff’s counsel announced that it would be making a motion to the court for attorney’s fees. The Plaintiff and the hotel Defendant would make a deal within twenty (20) minutes of this announcement for a settlement of $ 1.17 Million Dollars in exchange for the Plaintiff to not pursue attorney’s fees in the case.

As I have stated in a prior blog post about a Motel 6 Plaintiff in Georgia whose family was awarded millions for the death of their son on hotel premises, in Georgia a property owner can be held liable for failing to keep its premises safe for its guest and invitees. In a city as large as Atlanta, Georgia where crime is an issue, this is a serious legal concern for the community. An establishment that holds itself out at all hours of the day and night for those who may be from the area or, like the Plaintiff Fojutowski in this case, traveling from out of town who may or may not be familiar with a particular area of town, has a duty to keep its premises safe. If this means providing outside security at its own expense, then that is what this means. It is the cost of doing business and it is in accordance with the legal theory of Premises Liability in Georgia.

At Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, & Affiliates we have successfully represented claimants in a number of Premises Liability Cases and fact scenarios in Georgia. If you or a loved one have been injured or tragically killed on the premises of another, then please Contact Us for your free legal consultation. We are experienced in these types of cases and even if you think that your case may not be clear cut, you should have qualified legal counsel assist you in making that decision.

We look forward to hearing from you and working with you.