Carjacking victim files lawsuit against Buckhead shopping mall

The woman whose brutal carjacking at Phipps Plaza sparked fear and outrage has now filed a lawsuit claiming the mall failed to protect patrons from dangerous criminals or warn of their presence.

Michelle Wing’s face was battered and her eye socket fractured when two men attacked her while she was walking through a parking lot. The men reportedly beat her for about two minutes before taking her keys and purse and driving away in her 2007 BMW.

Her car was found that month and police later arrested a 17-year-old man and charged him in the Aug. 4 assault. Steve Spigner was the leader of a gang that trolled parking lots attacking women and robbing them of purses, phones and luxury cars, police said. At least two other men have been arrested in the cases that spread from Edgewood to Buckhead.

Wing’s lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Gwinnett County State Court against CPI-Phipps and its security company, Allied Barton Security Co., for unspecified financial damages. It contends the guards had inadequate training and that the companies either knew criminals prowled the parking lots or should have known and warned patrons.

“Two males surveilled the Phipps property at length, stalked (Wing) and otherwise engaged in behavior that was readily observable to defendants and indicated an immediate and dangerous threat to residents, tenants and guests,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendants had actual and constructive knowledge of criminal activity on the property prior to the attack on (Wing). Said criminal activity was negligently permitted to exist and remain.”

Wing, a trained kick boxer, told Channel 2 Action News after the attack she went into survival mode by shielding her head and telling her attackers to take her car key.

“I think he thought I was trying to keep the car from him and that’s when he was threatening me,” Wing told the news station in August. She said he threatened to shoot her. “That’s when I got down. I was thinking he was going to shoot me,” she said.

Surveillance cameras captured a witness speeding away in his or her car to find security while Wing was being attacked.

The lawsuit contends Wing is entitled to damages for reasons including reduced earnings abilities, medical bills and loss of the enjoyment of life.

Spigner was indicted Aug. 15 in Fulton County for allegedly attacking Wing when she was leaving the Twins Restaurant & Tapas Bar. He was also charged with the July 5 beating and carjacking of a woman at the Edgewood Retail District, a July 7 robbery on East Lake Boulevard in which the victim was hit in the face and robbed and a July 12 carjacking on Moreland Avenue where the victim was threatened with a gun.

In a statement released Friday night, Phipps Plaza management said security was on the scene within minutes to help during the incident and management provided surveillance footage to police to assist with the case.

“Our top priority at Phipps Plaza is always to provide a safe, quality-shopping environment for our shoppers and mall employees,” the statement said. “We regularly review all aspects of our security program and maintain an ongoing dialogue with the Atlanta Police Department to ensure that the proper measures are in place.”

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