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Negligence – Landlord/Tenant – Assault by Third Party – Fraud

Type of Action – Fraud, Breach of Contract, Negligence

Type of Injury – Rape & Assault, PTSD, Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Name of Case – Doe v. Roe Realty and Roe, L.L.C.

Court/case No. – Arlington Circuit Court, Law No. 98-99

Special Damages – Negligible medical bills, lost earnings potential claim

Awarded or settled – Settled

Amount – $1,500,000

Attorneys for the Plaintiff – Peter S. Everett, Robert J. Stoney, Meaghan D. Kolebuck, all of Fairfax

Plaintiff’s Experts – Dr. Gregory O’Shanick, Richmond, neuropsychiatry, neurorehabilitation; Joseph Bleiberg, Ph.D., Washington, D.C; neuropsychology; Jennifer Anotens, Richmond, neurolinguistics; Dr. Joseph C. Wu, Irvine, Calif., positron emission tomography; Ann Wolbert Burgess, D.N.Sc., Newton, Mass., rape trauma, PTSD; Peder K. Melberg, M.A., C.R.C., Richmond, vocational rehabilitation & lost earning capacity; Ronald P. Kirby, Chantilly, property management; James Webster, Reston, apartment lighting; Thomas Borzilleri, Ph.D., Washington, D.C., economist.

Defense Experts – Dr. Barry Gordon, Baltimore, neurology, psychology, neuropsychology; Dr. Helen S. Mayberg, Toronto, Canada, positron emission tomography; William Brill, Ph.D., security.

Other Useful Information – The plaintiff, a 28-year-old single woman, moved to the D.C. area from Ohio in late November 1995. While looking to rent an apartment managed and owned by the defendants in Arlington, she expressed concern about safety and asked several times whether any crimes or break-ins had occurred at the complex. She had never lived alone, and elected to look in Virginia, under the assumption that it would be safer than Washington, D.C.

The resident manager repeatedly assured her that there had been no crimes. In fact, the complex had a significant criminal history, including two prior sexual assaults. One assault was committed only days earlier and the perpetrator had not been caught. That perpetrator had gained access to the prior victim’s apartment by scaling a pole to her rear second floor balcony.

Although the resident manager knew about the earlier assault, she did not disclose it to the plaintiff. The plaintiff unknowingly rented the apartment immediately adjacent to the prior victim’s apartment. The two apartments shared the balcony that the rapist had earlier used.

Three months after the plaintiff moved in, the same perpetrator returned and climbed back up to the balcony. He entered the plaintiff’s apartment through a window with faulty locks and savagely beat, strangled and raped her.

As a result of the crime, the plaintiff suffers from chronic posttraumatic stress disorder. In addition, the severe beating and strangulation resulted in a mild brain injury, with a significant impact on linguistic fluency. Prior to the rape, the plaintiff had taken the LSAT and scored in the 90th percentile and had been accepted to the University of California at Davis Law School. She barely made it through law school, finishing in or near the bottom 10% of her class, well below the level predicted by her earlier testing and achievements. As a result, plaintiff claimed lost earning capacity in excess of a million dollars over her lifetime.

The defense vigorously contested that the plaintiff had suffered any brain injury, but, without admitting liability, tacitly acknowledged that the plaintiff’s fraud case was relatively strong.

The matter was resolved several days after a 12-hour mediation session conducted by Judge Robert L. Harris Sr. of the McCammon Mediation Group.


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