Friday, November 15, 2013

GRL Law Obtains Record Verdict

Polk County Jury hands down record verdict against property company owned in part by Des Moines housing code habitual violator, Mark Critelli.

On November 12, 2013, a Polk County Jury returned a verdict totaling $1,137,500.00 in favor of the parents of a 21 year old woman who fell to her death from a second story balcony at Grand Stratford Apartments in Des Moines.  It is believed that the jury’s verdict is the largest Iowa verdict under Iowa’s relatively new adult parental consortium statute.

On July 23, 2011, 21 year old Shannon Potts was killed when she fell from a second story balcony of the Grand Stratford Apartments.  The subsequent investigation revealed that the balcony railings were only 32 inches high in violation of the Des Moines Housing Code which required 42 inch railings.   Records showed that the defendant property owner, CM Holdings, LLC, had received four prior notices from the City of Des Moines that the railings were defective and in need of replacing prior to Shannon’s fall.  Mark Critelli, a Des Moines property owner who has been declared a “habitual violator” of the Des Moines Housing Code for repeated health and safety violations, was a 50% shareholder in CM Holdings LLC.

Shannon’s parents’ attorney, Cory F. Gourley, released the following statement:

Kathy and Tim are extremely grateful to the jury in his case for vindicating Shannon and her untimely death.  Moreover, Shannon’s parents hope this verdict serves as a stern warning to landlords to prioritize safety of guests and tenants over profits.   

There is nothing wrong with a business making money.  But when it comes at the expense of a human life, something has to change. The jury agreed.  While it is too late for Shannon and her family, Kathy and Tim are hopeful that the jury’s verdict will save the lives of others by serving as a constant reminder to landlords that their disregard for safety requirements will not be tolerated and comes at a steep price.

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