Greg Brown had worked in Florida in the family business of private investigation. He moved to Virginia and in 2008, he decided to open up his own investigation company with the help of his stepson. To help ends meet, they also would serve lawsuits as private process servers.
In 2011, attorney Sherwin J. Jacobs of Harrisonburg, called Brown and asked him to come by the office to discuss some work. Jacobs then described a domestic case in which he had recently been hired. Attorney Jacobs asked Brown to follow Canadian citizen Ali Abid. Abid’s wife had told Jacobs that her husband was cheating on her and she even knew where his girlfriend lived. Abid was a former Iraqi national who now ran a construction company in the Weyers Cave area.
The plan was to have Investigator Brown actually serve the divorce papers on Abid at his girlfriend’s house. On the morning of March 3, 2011, Brown left a voicemail for his stepson, to let him know that he would be late for their scheduled meeting that day because he was following Abid. Brown never showed up for his meeting. For the next three days, the family worried because Brown had disappeared. Then, his car was found in the parking lot of a shopping mall in Harrisonburg. In the trunk they found Brown’s body.
Brown had been shot three times. One of the shots was determined to be in close contact to the back of his head. On the same day that Brown had disappeared, Abid had withdrawn $11,376 from a bank and then traveled to Dulles Airport. There, the FBI determined that Abid had taken a series of flights to Iraq. To date, he has not been found. He is currently facing a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. In addition, Interpol has placed a computerized “red notice” to indicate an arrest warrant.
Court documents show that Abid has been in financial difficulties for some time. In 2009, American Express took a $22,000 judgment against him; In 2001, Augusta Medical Center filed a warrant in debt relating to medical bills; There is currently a case pending against him in Augusta County that was filed by Federal National Mortgage and his home is facing foreclosure proceedings. Abid’s bank was also in the process of repossessing his truck. Brown’s family (pictured below from nationalpost.com) are asking for help in the capture of Abid.
With the information now known about Abid, Brown’s widow has now filed suit against the lawyer that hired him to follow Abid and serve him with divorce papers. According to the lawsuit, the lawyer knew that Abid was dangerous including the knowledge that Abid had recently purchased a gun. The lawyer failed to warn Brown despite knowing that Brown had made repeated attempts to serve the divorce papers, which also gave Abid knowledge that a process server was looking for him.
Initially, Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Jane Marum Roush dismissed the lawsuit against the lawyer, because she found that the allegations in the suit failed to establish a “special relationship” between lawyer and investigator that created a legal duty to warn that it was “reasonably foreseeable by Jacobs as an imminent probability of harm” to Brown, in following and serving the defendant. Now, the Brown family attorney (former Attorney General candidate Mark Obenshain) has appealed that dismissal to the Virginia Supreme Court. There is no real prior case law that would address this as a claim for failure to warn a private investigator. A case with more to follow. (Portions of this story also came from Virginia Lawyers Weekly)
DID YOU KNOW that Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike, claims to have gotten his first shoe idea after staring at a waffle iron? Bowerman credits the idea of using squared spikes from the iron, to help make shoes lighter. I wonder what he would have invented if he had been staring at a baked potato?
Pic o’ day… a pony never goes out of style!