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Man Shot in Attempted Murder Suicide due to Mall Security Negligence

The mall security should have known. Guns were strictly prohibited at a shopping center in South Florida. Yet, one of the tenants, the owner of a jewelry chain, had repeatedly brandished a firearm. One horrible day, the mall’s heedlessness turned deadly when the jewelry shop owner shot his employee of 22 years at point-blank range, then turned the gun on himself.

The victim, a 55-year-old watch repairman, prepared to open the doors for business with his boss one November morning. Two weeks earlier, he had given notice that he would be going to work for a competitor in the mall. On his last day at the jewelry chain, the watch repairman waited at the counter for the first customer. Suddenly, the repairman’s boss emerged from the back room with a gun and yelled, “Backstabber!” and fired at his employee. Bullets flew from a 38-caliber revolver, hitting the employee in the head, face, and elbow. Still alive, the critically wounded employee played dead on the ground. His boss then hovered over him, shot him in the back of the head execution-style, then fatally turned the gun on himself. The gunned-down store employee suffered a heart attack days later.

Civil trial attorneys Steven Romanello and Lorne Kaiser, partners at Kaiser Romanello, read about the shooting in the paper and thought it would make for an interesting case. They later received a call from another attorney who previously worked on the case and asked if Steven and Lorne would be interested in representing the victim.

The attorneys immediately realized that the case presented several challenges. However, they were prepared to face them. The first was proving liability. The Defense claimed the shooting was a tragic, five-minute occurrence that could not possibly have been prevented. Steven and Lorne felt otherwise. The shooter violated the mall’s security policies on successive occasions, including flashing a firearm. The assailant even tried selling a weapon to a security guard, who failed to report the incident. Additionally, the boss had an altercation with the mall manager and run-ins with security.

Steven and Lorne knew simplifying this seemingly complex case was the key to victory. The duo sought to contrast the simple watch repairman from one of the largest security companies in the world. They needed to show that by knowingly allowing guns in the mall — despite policies that forbade them — the national security chain betrayed its duty to keep the facility safe. The attorneys concluded that an animation would show the story more effectively than trying to tell it.

Thus, Steven and Lorne hired DK Global. The 3D animation firm created several demonstratives that presented the complex case in an easy-to-follow manner. DK Global made a timeline that laid out very clearly how the tragic shooting was not the isolated five-minute incident the Defense claimed. Indeed, it was the culmination of six months of mental instability shown by the shooter.

DK Global prepared two medical animations. One illustrated the bullets entering the jewelry repairman’s body and the damage they did to his sinus cavity, brain, and elbow. The visual then showed inoperable bullet fragments in the victim’s skull, which would cause future pain to the jaw joint. This was followed by renderings of the multiple surgeries needed to repair the Plaintiff’s facial fracture, maxillary mandibular fixation, and a tracheostomy for respiratory failure. The surgical animation continued by demonstrating the reconstruction of the Plaintiff’s elbow and removal of bullet fragments. The final demonstrative linked the heart attack the victim suffered 48 hours after the shooting with the incident itself. It broke down exactly how the stress of the incident caused the plaque inside the victim’s heart to rupture and depicted the open-heart surgery required to save his life.

Initially, the Defense made no offer, though they eventually offered $163,000, their insurance policy limit. As trial approached and they saw the videos in mediation, the Defense made their highest offer: $2,000,000. Steven and Lorne turned it down, taking the case to trial, which lasted three weeks. In the end, the jury found both the mall and the security company liable, awarding the Plaintiff $5,000,000 in damages.

Lorne Kaiser, a founding partner of Kaiser Romanello, has practiced personal injury law in South Florida for 21 years. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Florida State University College of Law in 2002. His charismatic personality, combined with his advanced negotiating skills, has helped him recover millions of dollars for his clients. Lorne is a member of the Florida State Bar and is licensed to practice in the U.S. District Court of Southern Florida. He is a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, as well as the Broward County Trial Lawyers Association and the Florida Bar.

Steven Romanello, a founding partner at Kaiser Romanello law firm, has practiced law for over 20 years. As an accident and injury attorney, Steven has recovered millions of dollars in damages for his clients. He served as the Editor-in-Chief of the ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law. Additionally, Steven is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. He is a member of the Broward County Trial Lawyers Association and the Florida Bar. In his spare time, Steven enjoys writing, recording, and performing music.

"You have to show the jury your case. Not tell them, show them. And that's exactly what we did."
Lorne Kaiser - Kaiser Romanello, P.A.
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