City councilwoman sues condo owner over attack by intruder at Belvedere

May 09, 1994|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

City Councilwoman Paula Johnson Branch has filed suit against the owners and managers of the Belvedere Condominiums over an attack by an intruder who broke into her residence in September.

The suit, which was filed May 2 in Baltimore City Circuit Court and seeks $10 million in damages, says the 2nd District Democrat suffered "serious and traumatic psychological injuries" from the attack and has been unable to stay in her unit.

"She could never sleep in that place again," said her attorney, A. Dwight Pettit. "She hasn't been able to have any kind of mental stability with regards to security since then."

Ms. Branch has been living with her mother since the attack and has put her apartment up for sale, he said.

On Sept. 16, the first-term councilwoman was asleep in her apartment when an intruder kicked down the door shortly before 6 a.m., according to an interview she gave at the time. The man tied her up on her bed, gagged her and forced her into a closet, she said. He took $20 in cash and a videocassette recorder and a portable computerized pocket organizer worth several hundred dollars, she said.

The lawsuit says that at the time of the attack, the former hotel at 1 E. Chase St. had a malfunctioning security system and that there was no security guard at the front desk. It says that before the attack the condominium board had repeatedly asked that security be maintained.

The suit names as defendants the Belvedere's Council of Unit Owners; David O. Feldman Inc., the manager of the Belvedere last September; and Wallace H. Campbell Co. Inc., the building's current manager.

Efforts to reach Mr. Feldman and the attorney for the condominium owners were unsuccessful.

Bruce Campbell, president of Wallace H. Campbell Co., said his company did not begin managing the Belvedere until 3 1/2 months after Ms. Branch's attack and was not responsible for what happened before it took over.

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