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$102.7M Verdict for Man Shot in Holdup Attempt Outside Florida Strip Club

Fort Lauderdale- After a monthlong trial, a jury on Nov. 28 found Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Report Investment Corp., a property ownership company, liable for the medical expenses and lost earnings of Sami Barrak, who was in Miami on his day off from his job as a waiter aboard a SeaEscape cruise ship in July 2002.

Report Investment owns the parking lot adjacent to recently-sold Tootsie’s Cabaret, a strip club that was located in the now-demolished five-store Sierra Shopping Mall site in Miami Gardens.

Barrak visited the club with a friend. After departing, the two men walked to Barrak’s car, but his friend had to return to the club to retrieve a pack of cigarettes he had left behind. While alone in the driver’s seat of his car, an unidentified man approached Barrak, screamed something at him and shot him in the neck while trying to rob him. The assailant escaped and was never caught.

Barrak now lives on a ventilator in Tunisia and is a quadriplegic. He sued Report Investments and Tootsie’s shortly afterward, but the jury found Tootsie’s had “zero percent” liability in the case.

Barrak alleged the firm negligently maintained an unsafe environment by not keeping the mall’s parking lot safe at night.

The complaint claims Report Investment failed to have an adequate number of security cameras, failed to illuminate the area sufficiently and did not have competent security to patrol the lot. The complaint also alleges Report Investment failed to follow security procedures it had in place at the time Barrak was shot. The plaintiff alleged, for example, that Report Investment had inspection and supervision procedures for security but failed to follow them.

“Criminals could carry out physical assaults on the defendant’s premises without fear of being caught, discovered or prosecuted,” the complaint says.

Michael Haggard, of the Coral Gables, Fla.-based Haggard Law Firm, represents Barrak and declined to comment, citing instructions by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Kevin Emas. Report Investment’s attorney Thomas J. McCausland, a partner with Conroy Simberg Ganon in Hollywood, Fla., did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

The jury awarded Barrak $1.4 million for past medical expenses, $164,000 for past lost earnings, $28 million for future medical expenses, $650,000 for lost earning ability, $2.5 million for past pain and suffering and $70 million for future pain and suffering.

The two parties may be working on a post-verdict settlement agreement that likely would lessen the verdict amount but stave off the possibility of it being reversed on appeal.

The case is not the first time Report Investment has been sued over conditions on one of its properties. In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sued Report Investment and Pennsylvania-based Black Box Corp. in U.S. District Court in Miami for not reimbursing the federal government for cleaning up the old Milgo Electronics Corp. site at 3600 76th Street in Miami.

For 18 years starting in 1966, the Milgo factory handled electroplating, chemical rinsing and spray-coating for the production of electronic parts. The three-acre site has been owned by Report Investment since the factory opened. Three years after the factory closed in 1984, an EPA investigation found deposits of chromium and lead in the groundwater at the building site. The agency concluded those metals were seeping into the Biscayne Bay aquifer and affecting drinking water.

The EPA alleged the two defendants did not reimburse its Hazardous Substance Superfund for $533,000 in cleanup expenses they had agreed to pay in 1992. The parties settled after entering into a consent decree Oct. 29 of this year. As part of the settlement, Report Investment and Black Box did not admit any liability.

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