Garage owners want $4M rape award reduced

BOSTON — Attorneys for a Boston parking garage were back in court Wednesday fighting an August verdict by a jury. That jury awarded a Haverhill woman more than $4 million after she was brutally raped in their garage. But now attorneys for the company are pushing for the award to be reduced and for a new trial.

Our Heather Hegedus was the only reporter in the courtroom and it was a significant verdict because it was one of the largest awards for this kind of case. And the details of the case are just chilling.

Rape victim Kira Wahlstrom said the parking garage not only failed to take responsibility, but fought the verdict, which has only added to her stress and sleepless nights.

"If anything I've gotten worse since the trial I cry every day," she said. "And I still wish that I wasn't here sometimes because it's so much to go through I feel like it's unfair for my children."

It's been four months since we last spoke with Wahlstrom and just when she thought some of her worst days were behind her, Wednesday she was forced to listen in court to the graphic details of her 2009 rape, all over again.

"It just makes me very sad. I believed in what the jury decided," she said.

Kira sued the owners of the garage in the former Radisson Hotel, where it happened because the same man who raped Kira also raped another woman in the same garage 12 days earlier, but the garage failed to notify customers about what happened.

In August, after an 18 day trial, jurors ruled the parking garage was negligent and awarded her $4 million plus interest, totaling $6.6 million for her emotional and psychological injuries.

Patty Dejuneas said, "This affects everything, it affects every single one of her brain functions."

But Wednesday, attorneys for JPA Management argued for a new trial and a reduction of that award, saying jurors were tainted by information and question Kira's attorneys said in court that the judge had already ruled inadmissible.

Tony Campo, attorney for JPA, said, "It's about ignoring the rules."

JPA's attorney's say one of Kira's attorney's literally wrote the book on what is called the "reptile theory." A strategy for plaintiff's attorneys.

Tony Campo said, "It seemed to be a playbook in which the plaintiffs were playing upon and sought to impose upon the jury's passions, their fears, their sympathies, prejudices.  To some extent in every jury trial that happens."

He went on to say, "But at some point you go too far."

But Kira's attorneys say, the reptiles are the other side.

The defense even claimed that by Kira's attorneys saying in their opening statement that the media was watching the case could have led to jurors being tainted. The judge is now taking the motions filed by JPA under advisement and there are several ways the judge could rule.