Evergreen Square case picks up steam

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – After months with no action, the Evergreen Square lawsuit has seen a burst of activity just weeks before a looming deadline.
Defense attorneys filed notices Monday that they intend to interview 19 witnesses in the case against the apartment complex on Lawndale Drive now named President’s Gate.
Both sides have until March 19 to conclude their interviews, request documents and obtain other information in what’s called a discovery process.
“Things are finally coming to a head,” said Tupelo attorney Lawrence Deas, who represents the 11 former apartment dwellers behind the suit.
They claim the apartment owner and manager failed to maintain the units and that the dangerous conditions caused personal injury and property damage. They also allege that anyone who complained about the conditions was written up and, in some cases, evicted.
Named in the suit are former manager Shariah Gates, owner Roland Von Kurnatowski and his company, Fountainbleau Management Services. They’re represented by Clarksdale attorney Bill Luckett and Memphis attorney Brian Yoakum. They deny the claims.
Evergreen Square is a 257-unit apartment complex on Lawndale Drive, which recently changed its name to Presidents Gate. Despite several improvements since the suit was filed in late 2008, problems persist.
In a separate lawsuit filed Friday, one of the apartment’s former maintenance workers claims he was unfairly fired for refusing to participate in illegal activity.
Gary Griffin says he was told Oct. 4 to release Freon from an air conditioning unit into the open air, an Environmental Protection Agency violation. He was fired four days after refusing.
Griffin is now suing Fountainbleau for $75,000. Deas and Oxford attorney James Harper represent him.
Yoakum said he has not yet seen the complaint. A trial for that case has not yet been set.
A trial on the first suit is set for Sept. 13 in U.S. District Court of Oxford. Chief Judge Michael P. Mills will preside.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.