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Mississippi Lawyer Blog

USM Football Player Martez Smith Suit Settled

Martez-Smith-2.jpgAfter a protracted and heated litigation (aren't they all?) Coxwell & Associates is pleased to announce that Martez Smith has settled his case against the Remington Hunt Club. Terms of the settlement are confidential. For those who are not regular followers of my blog (I think my Mom and father-in-law Guy Russell are my only regular readers by the way) Martez was shot three (3) times in the parking lot of the Remington Hunt Club located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. At the time of the shooting, Martez was attending the University of Southern Mississippi and played football for the Golden Eagles. The shooting occurred on November 14, 2010. Martez suffered catastrophic injuries. He was permanently paralyzed from the waist down. Two of Martez' teammates were also shot and filed separate lawsuits. We did not represent them.

Martez' path to justice was littered with numerous obstacles. First, the corporation and individual who owned the Remington Hunt Club filed for bankruptcy. That meant Martez first had to obtain bankruptcy court approval to pursue the case against the club. While this sounds like a simple process, the case was delayed for several months in order for a hearing to be set.

The Remington Hunt Club had become a notorious haven for criminal activity prior to Martez being shot. We asked the Hattiesburg Police Department to produce all the police calls made to the Remington Hunt Club. The police reports showed that the Hattiesburg police department was called out to the club 160 times since the club opened in January 2008 to handle a range of criminal complaints from underage drinking to shootings. In fact, there were several shootings in the parking lot in the weeks prior to Martez being shot.

The ownership did little in the way to protect its customers. The club hired its own security guards but during depositions the owner did not know of any training that was given to the guards and the club did not have any policies and procedures for the guards to follow. The owner did not know what, if any, background checks were made on prospective employees. This was very obvious because several of the guards who were on duty the night Martez was shot belonged to the Gangster Disciples, a national criminal gang. A deposition of the Hattiesburg Detective who investigated Martez' shooting revealed that the Remington Hunt Club was a major gang hang out and the Gangster Disciples "ran things". The ultimate fact that we were going to use at trial was this: The person who shot Martez was identified as a Gangster Disciple. We were going to argue that the Gangster Disciple "security guards" failed to intervene to help Martez because they were actually protecting their fellow gangster.

Things got so bad for the defense that their own security expert changed his opinoins. In his deposition. I was able to get their expert to admit that the club failed to adequately train and supervise their employees, failed to screen prospective employees, and that Martez' shooting was foreseeable based on the past criminal activity at the club.

The defendant finally agreed to talk settlement but they wanted to split the insurance policy limits with Martez other two teammates. Martez was injured much more seriously than his buddies. Our medical expert, economist and vocational expert agreed that Martez' economic damages were in excess of $4 million. There was no way we were going to have Martez take less than he deserved.

We ended up having to sue the insurance company in order to get Martez his full compensation. The defendant filed a motion to continue the impending trial, a clear delay tactic. We objected and the trial judge denied the continuance request. Of course, when you sue another defendant you get more lawyers to deal with. Fortunately we were able to have a fine local defense attorney who, while not agreeing with our position, was very pragmatic. We finally ended up resolving Martez' case.

Martez is determined not to let this injury define him. He graduated from USM with a degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in business, sports management, and coaching. Martez has plans to open his own trucking business and follow in his father's footsteps.

At Coxwell & Associates, we will fight to help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. It sounds corny and you may hear "tv lawyers" say it all the time but our proof is in the pudding so to speak. Our great legal team, including Jennifer Scoggins and Lena Huse, contributed mightily to this case. We were also fortunate to have awesome expert witnesses such as Jim Koerber, Bruce Brawner, Dr. Howard Katz, and Chief Terrell Bolton. To learn more about Chuck Mullins act like you're in a library and check me out. Hey, I have hair in that picture. Awesome!

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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