The Haggard Law Firm’s Pedro Echarte and Michael Haggard, along with co-counsel Millicent Daniels from Batts-Daniels Law, have obtained a $3.6 Million settlement in a wrongful death negligent security case in Duval County, Florida. The young father killed had only recently moved into the apartment complex where he was shot. The property had an extensive history of prior crime.

Attorney Pedro Echarte Photo
The Haggard Law Firm’s Pedro Echarte
Attorney Michael Haggard Photo
Managing Partner Michael Haggard

It was December 20, 2017 when DeAngelo Tillie was shot and killed while inside his apartment unit at the Camelot Gardens Apartments. Shortly before the shooting, Mr. Tillie’s minor daughter came to his apartment to spend the holidays with him. At approximately 3:30 p.m. that day, while his daughter was in the bedroom watching television and he was sitting on his sofa in the living room, two unknown assailants opened the door to his unit and shot him numerous times. At the time of the incident, the apartment complex was owned by Defendant Eagle Gardens of Jacksonville, LLC, and managed by Lohman Property MGMT.CO., LLC., which were related entities that were controlled by the same individual.

Tillie with his young daughter

Mr. Tillie moved into the complex with his girlfriend just three weeks before the shooting. Mr. Tillie and his girlfriend did not know the apartment complex had been the location of several prior incidents of violent (and non-violent crime), including multiple shootings, armed robberies, and stabbings. In fact, between the time the Defendants purchased the property in November 2016 and Mr. Tillie’s murder, the evidence established that there had been 10 shootings at the property, including one where the victim was paralyzed.

Echarte and Haggard established that despite the history of violent crime, the Defendants failed to address the criminal activity at the property and largely ignored the problem. The Defendants initially claimed they had a police substation on the property and also 40-60 hours of private security guard services every week, but both contentions proved to be misleading. The Haggard Law Firm’s investigation proved there was no such substation.

The Defendants allowed local law enforcement to use a room in one of the buildings for breaks during shifts, but the police presence was not consistent and the officers that used the room did not patrol the large premises that spanned several blocks. In addition, the Defendant’s former employees testified the police officers would often suggest to the property management to hire off-duty officers to patrol the premises in order to curb the violent crime plaguing the community. Those former employees also testified that the concerns and recommendations were conveyed to their superiors, but were entirely ignored.

Haggard Law’s Echarte and Haggard were able to establish that while the Defendants did pay private security guards, the guards did not spend their time patrolling the property in a proactive security capacity. Instead, they spent the majority of time allotted responding to incidents of crime at this property and at other properties the Defendants owned and operated in the Jacksonville, Florida area. As a result, Haggard Law argued that the property had virtually no security measures in place, despite a significant need.

            Mr. Tillie’s two minor children, including his daughter who was in the apartment at the time of the shooting, were the statutory survivors in this claim. The damages primarily comprised of their past and future pain and suffering. The case settled for $3,600,000 two weeks before the trial was set to begin.

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