"investigative Blitzreig" - Personal Injury Case


Our civil plaintiff client was a woman who, while living in a large Palo Alto apartment complex, had been attacked, raped, stabbed repeatedly and left for dead. The attacker’s method of entry was through a sliding glass door with a faulty lock that the plaintiff had complained to management about for months.

The Story:

An issue in asserting negligence on the part of the apartment complex was whether or not other residents of the complex had experienced similar problems with their sliding glass doors – had they complained and, if so, what was management’s response to their complaints?


The apartment complex consisted of five very large buildings with a total of about 250 apartments.  We had to find a way to interview as many of these individuals as possible without raising the attention of the apartment complex management.


We put together a crew of six investigators who had been briefed on the case.  They were charged with asking only a few very simple questions of each of the residents they contacted:  1) Had they experienced problems with the glass doors? 2) Had they reported problems to management? and 3) What was the response of management?


We assumed that once management became aware of our presence in the complex we would be asked to leave.  And, we knew we had to comply with their request since this was private property.


We began our canvass at 8 pm.  At 9:15 pm, management made a very angry appearance at the complex, with Police Officers in tow.  They ordered us from the property, and we complied.


In the hour and fifteen minutes that we had free range of the complex, however, our six investigators managed to contact and briefly interview a total of 84 tenants, a significant number of whom had experienced the same problems with the sliding door that our plaintiff client had experienced.


The case was settled very favorably for the plaintiff without the need for trial.

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