Jury Verdict: $ 138,700.00
Jamal Shaikh, et al. v Amguard Security, Inc., et al.
Court and Presiding Judge
Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland
The Honorable Vincent Ferretti
Donald Nixon, Esq.
Facts and Damages
Mr. Jamal Shaikh was in the business of purchasing used vehicles, making repairs on them and then selling the restored vehicles for a profit. He lived in the Windsor Court Apartment complex in Silver Spring with his wife, Patricia Sigley, and their two sons, Adam and Nathan. Mr. Shaikh purchased a vehicle at an auction, which vehicle had apparently been stolen previously by having its ignition hotwired. Therefore, there was no ignition key and Mr. Shaikh had rigged the vehicle so that it would start by inserting a screw driver into the key hole as one would a key.
On November 28, 1997, Mr. Shaikh was making final reparations to sell the vehicle to a prospective purchaser the next day. While attempting to start the vehicle with the screw driver to drive it to a parts store, Mr. Shaikh was approached by two security guards employed by Amguard Security, the firm hired by the owner of the apartment complex to guard the apartment building’s premises. One of the guards ordered Mr. Shaikh out of the vehicle and told him to stay at the vehicle until police were called to investigate his attempt to “steal” the vehicle. Shaikh explained to the guards that he was the owner of the vehicle and further explained the ignition problems to them. He called their attention to the current license plates on the vehicle and indicated that he was in a hurry, but would go upstairs and bring down the paperwork to show he had purchased the vehicle.
As Mr. Shaikh exited the car and walked toward the apartment building, he was accosted by one of the guards, who hit him in the head with a metal baton and knocked him to the ground. Bleeding from the gash in his forehead, Shaikh was repeatedly struck by the guards while on the ground.
Hearing the commotion below, Ms. Sigley looked out her apartment window to see Shaikh bleeding on the ground. She immediately ran down the stairs to assist her husband, with their 13 year old son, Adam, following. Upon arriving at the scene, one of the guards pepper-sprayed Adam directly in the face.
Montgomery County police officers arrived on the scene and broke up the participants. Upon investigation, they discovered Shaikh had been telling the truth and offered to take him to the hospital. Shaikh declined, choosing to be taken by his wife. At the hospital, the gash in his head was closed by five (5) stitches and ultimately healed with little or no visible scarring.
Adam’s eyes were also treated and flushed at the hospital and he incurred no lasting physical damage from the attack. Mr. Shaikh, however, suffered from nightmares and trouble sleeping for many months after the attack and was treated by a psychiatrist for post-traumatic stress syndrome.
The family’s out-of-pocket losses at the time of trial totaled approximately $3,500.
Jury Verdict: $138,700
Pretrial Settlement Offers
Suit was brought against both the security firm and the individual security guards, alleging assault and battery. The suit requested compensatory and punitive damages, alleging the security guards did not have police powers, as members of a private security force, and no authority or justification to use force against Mr. Shaihk and his son.
After a four (4) day jury trial and jury deliberations for most of two (2) days, the jury returned a compensatory damages verdict in favor of the Shaikhs. The jury, however, went further, finding that a basis for punitive damages had been established. Under the circumstances, had the case not settled, the jury trial would have continued with evidence being presented regarding the net worth of each of the Defendants so that the jury could assess a punitive damages award that would adequately punish the Defendants for their conduct. However, in discussions at the courthouse before the punitive damages evidence was presented, Amguard’s insurance company offered to pay the entire amount of the compensatory damage award within one (1) week and release any right it had to appeal the verdict. The Plaintiffs accepted the offer and the case settled on those terms.