Doctor’s Claims of Storage-Unit Torture Spawn Lawsuit Against CubeSmart

A Florida doctor claims kidnappers whisked him away to a local storage facility, where they bound him to a chair, beat him up and burned him with scorching-hot metal.  

A self-storage unit. (Image by Self Storage at www.stokado.pl via Wikicommons)

(CN) — A plastic surgeon is taking storage company CubeSmart to court over an episode in which he reported being kidnapped and tortured inside a plastic-lined storage unit stocked with blades at one of the company’s South Florida locations.  

Nader Haroun Shehata filed a lawsuit in Broward County Circuit Court late Monday, claiming the company’s Margate storage facility in South Florida lacked security measures to prevent violent crime from being carried out after hours.

Shehata claims he was taken to the storage facility the evening of Jan. 14, 2019, after being abducted in the parking of a nearby Hallandale Beach Walmart. Armed with guns, his kidnappers tased him and tossed him into the back of a cargo van before whisking him away to the storage unit, he says.  

Inside the unit, “he was tortured for hours,” according to the complaint. He told law enforcement that the kidnappers bound him to a rolling chair and threatened to kill him if he did not fork over money.

“He was shown guns, cutters and rusted saws while being slapped and threatened with death. In addition to the punching and slapping, the captors used blow torches to heat metal cutters until they were glowing red, and then pressed them into his hands,” the lawsuit states.

The kidnappers allegedly forced Shehata to drink alcohol and he passed out. He told investigators that he woke up back in his car in a parking lot. That’s where police found him, burned, tied up and bruised just before 4 a.m. on Jan. 15, 2019.

The lawsuit claims the torture session could have been prevented if the storage facility had adequate measures in place to monitor visitors at night. Shehata seeks to hold CubeSmart liable for allegedly “failing to prevent [the] assailants from accessing the storage unit after hours.”

Attorney Ben Fernandez, who is assisting Silva in the case, said Shehata “continues to suffer from the traumatic experience.”

“There is supposed to be a procedure where visitors are not permitted to operate their storage unit with the front door closed,” Fernandez said in a phone interview. “That’s in place because we have a history of public storage units being used for grow houses, prostitution, all kinds of crime.”

Walmart is named as a defendant under a negligent security claim as well. Neither company has responded to a request for comment on the case.

The complaint recounts a supposed history of crime around Walmart and CubeSmart’s respective properties, which Shehata claims should have prompted the companies to beef up security. He is represented by Carlos Silva in Coral Gables.

Justin Boccio, one of the kidnappers, was arrested a few months after the incident. He pleaded guilty to federal kidnapping and conspiracy charges and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

His alleged accomplice, Serge Nkorina, was extradited to Miami early this year after being detained in Spain. Kidnapping charges against Nkorina are pending in the Southern District of Florida.

The criminal complaint says that in the time leading up to the kidnapping, Nkorina lived with a woman who was a patient at Shehata’s medical office. He later shacked up with Boccio before the two carried out the abduction, the complaint states.

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