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HLF Letter

Haggard Law Firm > HLF Letter (Page 18)

Haggard Law $1 Million Settlement in Negligent Security Case Featured in Daily Business Review

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Today’s copy of Daily Business Review has a feature on a recent $1 million settlement in a negligent security case lead by our Todd Michaels.
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Background on the case:

Opa Locka, Florida – The owners of the Top Value Supermarket in Opa Locka have agreed to a payout of $1 million to the Estate of Miguel Pilotos, who was gunned down on the property during a robbery Aug. 21, 2013.

The 71-year-old man was simply picking up groceries when he was shot at the supermarket located on Northwest 137th street and northwest 27th avenue. The crime was caught on camera. The gunman rode up to the victim’s car on a bicycle and pulled out his weapon and shot the husband and father in the neck. Pilotos, who had under $20 on him when he was killed, had been with his wife Aleida for 25 years. He emigrated from Cuba 19 years ago.

The lawyer for the Pilotos family, Todd Michaels of The Haggard Law Firm, says the crime was predictable and preventable. “At the time of his murder, Miguel Pilotos was the third Top Value customer robbed and shot and the second one killed in that parking lot, in six months” says Michaels. He adds “despite the previous crimes, and the widespread knowledge the business was located in a high-crime area, the supermarket did not alter security in the parking lot in any way.”

Common Conditions that Give Rise to a Premises Liability Case

Common Conditions that Give Rise to a Premises Liability Case

By Douglas McCarron, The Haggard Law Firm

In my experience, the most common condition in any premises liability case is the lack of guardianship of the property.  In most instances, the property owner and/or manager fails to put in place policies and procedures that ensure that the premises is kept in a reasonably safe condition.  For example, in many negligent security cases it becomes obvious that the owner and management fail to do anything that assesses violent crime occurring at the property.  Without knowing what type of crime is happening, it is nearly impossible to know what type of security measures are needed.  How can the owner make decisions about access control, manned security, and surveillance cameras, if they have failed to gather the crime statistics for the property and the surrounding area?  The answer is simple, they do not know and consequently violent crime continues to victimize the property’s guests and invitees.  In slip and fall cases, many properties fail to ensure that their employees follow the internal policies and procedures to maintain the property in a safe manner.  This leads to dangerous conditions being left on the property for an unacceptable amount of time. 

If property owners simply prepare policies and procedures for their employees to follow and have appropriate supervision to ensure that the policies and procedures are being followed, then the most dangerous conditions would cease to exist.  Obviously, financial considerations come into play for the property owners.  In developing a premises liability case, it is important to discover exactly what property owners are failing to do and why they are failing to do it.  Jurors do not appreciate property owners turning a blind eye and pleading ignorance.  Jurors also do not accept that the owners do not want to put the necessary resources (money) into the property to make it safe.

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Just today, my partner Todd Michaels, secured a $2.65 million dollar verdict in a negligent security case in Clay County, Florida.  The facts of the case demonstrated that the property knew that there was a upswing in crime at the property.  Instead of being proactive, the property owner allowed the access control gates to remain broken for over 6 months.  The property owner’s failure caused the death of our client during a burglary attempt to his sister’s home.    This is a prime example of how juries will find for a victim in light of a property owner refusing to make their property safe.

As discussed, when preparing a premises liability case, it is extremely important to go through what policies and procedures a property owner has put into place and whether they are being followed.   Just as important is why a property owner is failing to take the reasonable steps to make sure that the property is safe.   Get all written policies and procedures as soon as possible – send written discovery requesting this information with the filing of the Complaint.  Follow this with detailed depositions of management and the property employees.  Armed with this information, it will become easy to show that the property owner and/or management dug their head in the sand and were at fault for your client’s injury or death.

To learn more about the Haggard Law Firm

All Haggard Law Firm Attorneys Named to 2016 Super Lawyers List

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The Haggard Law Firm’s William Haggard, Michael Haggard, Douglas McCarron, Christopher Marlowe, Todd Michaels and James Blecke have all been named to the 2016 Super Lawyers List.

WILLIAM-ANDREW-HAGGARD    MICHAEL-A-HAGGARD-full  DOUGLAS J. MCCARRON
CHRISTOPHER-L.-MARLOWE  TODD-J-MICHAELS-full  12243034_10154655006347619_4062053992452190268_n
Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.
The patented selection process includes independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations.
Accolade_SuperlawyerRS2016
The Haggard Law Firm’s Jason Brenner and Pedro Echarte were included in the 2016 Super Lawyers Rising Stars list.
JASON-R-BRENNER     PEDRO-P-ECHARTE-III-full

Michaels Selected Chair of FJA Committee

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The Haggard Law Firm’s Todd Michaels has been selected as the Chair of the Florida Justice Association’s Rental Car Committee.

The Committee is responsible for drafting any proactive legislation that the FJA would like to pursue, assist staff in drafting position papers and amendments and to act as an advisory group during the state’s legislative session on issues within the expertise of its members.

Michaels is currently an FJA board member, is on the organization’s executive committee and is the Miami-Dade County Vanguard Chair .

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The FJA is dedicated to strengthening and upholding Florida’s civil justice system and protecting the rights of Florida’s citizens and consumers.

The FJA believes that all Floridians benefit when deserving individuals have a fair chance to seek justice in our state’s courts and that Florida’s consumers are made safer when large corporations and industries are held to a high ethical standard and accept fair responsibility for their actions.

FJA works in the legislative, political and public arenas to ensure that Floridians know and understand the importance of their rights to justice and to make certain that these rights, which are at the very core of what it means to be American, are safeguarded and protected.

 

 

Call For Pool Safety Standards For Cruise Industry After Young Child Nearly Drowns

An 8-year-old boy is in critical condition after nearly drowning in a pool on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas cruise ship Thursday afternoon.

The Coast Guard said the boy had been in the water for 8 to 10 minutes before cruise officials found him, the Associated Press reports. Medical representatives performed CPR on him before a helicopter landed on the ship to take him to a hospital, company officials told Today.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family that has been changed by this tragedy. We hold public pools, community pools and private pools to high codes and industry standards across the United States. It is time for the cruise lines to be held to the same safety level” says The Haggard Law Firm’s Managing Partner Michael Haggard.

The Haggard Law Firm, has represented a number of families who’ve had to deal with significant injury or death of a loved one in drowning accidents. The Firm’s work representing victims of drownings has spurred changes in state codes and laws governing pool safety.

“The cruise lines are well aware that people come on their ships to let down their guard and take a break from everyday life. They are well aware of the dangers inherent in swimming pools and so many of their activities. The fact that basic pool safety is ignored is simply astonishing” says The Haggard Law Firm’s Todd Michaels.

The cruise industry earns nearly $40 billion* in revenue per year and it is only growing as cruise lines continue to build and sail new ships. The growth will lead to more tragedies if investments into pool safety measures and new standards are not made.

Michaels adds “cruise ships are floating cities with a thousand dangers lurking around every corner. How many people have to die or suffer serious injury before the cruise lines get serious about safety? ”

 

 

* http://www.statisticbrain.com/cruise-ship-industry-statistics/

Haggard Law Conducts Negligent Security Seminar During the FJA Convention

Haggard Law Conducts Negligent Security Seminar During the FJA Convention this Week

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Todd Michaels lead a seminar yesterday during the 2016 Florida Justice Association’s Annual Convention in Palm Beach. Michaels discussed the ins and outs of trying a negligent security case in Florida.

 

The seminar was part of the FJA’s Young Lawyers Seminar Series. Michaels is currently an FJA board member, the Miami-Dade County Vanguard Chair and will begin a term on the organization’s Executive Committee next week.

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Recently, Michaels delivered a $1 million settlement to the family of Miguel Pilotos in a negligent security case. The 71-year-old was gunned down in a supermarket parking lot in 2013.  In the last 10 years, The Haggard Law Firm has handled over 150 negligent security cases and delivered over $340 million in verdicts and settlements in those cases.

Get to know Todd Michaels

 

NEGLIGENT SECURITY CASE RESULT: $1 million in settlement

NEGLIGENT SECURITY CASE RESULT: Family of 71-year-old man murdered in parking lot of Opa Locka supermarket to receive $1 million in settlement with the businesses’ owners

 

Victim’s wife of 25 years hopes result of lawsuit will drive other businesses to increase security measures

 

Opa Locka, Florida – The owners of the Top Value Supermarket in Opa Locka have agreed to a payout of $1 million to the Estate of Miguel Pilotos, who was gunned down on the property during a robbery Aug. 21, 2013.

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The 71-year-old man was simply picking up groceries when he was shot at the supermarket located on Northwest 137th street and northwest 27th avenue. The crime was caught on camera. The gunman rode up to the victim’s car on a bicycle and pulled out his weapon and shot the husband and father in the neck. Pilotos, who had under $20 on him when he was killed, had been with his wife Aleida for 25 years. He emigrated from Cuba 19 years ago.

At the time of his murder, Miguel Pilotos was the third Top Value customer robbed and shot and the second one killed in that parking lot, in six months

 

The lawyer for the Pilotos family, Todd Michaels of The Haggard Law Firm, says the crime was predictable and preventable. “At the time of his murder, Miguel Pilotos was the third Top Value customer robbed and shot and the second one killed in that parking lot, in six months” says Michaels. He adds “despite the previous crimes, and the widespread knowledge the business was located in a high-crime area, the supermarket did not alter security in the parking lot in any way.”

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Seventeen-year-old Jamal Jackson was arrested for the crime.

Coverage following the arrest of Jackson several weeks after the crime:

CBS MIAMI: http://miami.cbslocal.com/2013/09/13/arrest-made-in-opa-locka-parking-lot-murder/

NBC Miami: http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Family-of-Man-Gunned-Down-in-Opa-locka-Supermarket-Parking-Lot-Pleads-for-Suspects-Capture-222628231.html

Evidence Development In Negligent Security Cases

Authored By The Haggard Law Firm’s Christopher L. Marlowe

When you argue that your client’s injuries could have been prevented through the use of reasonable security measures, the defendant will claim those measures are excessive or unnecessary. So what are reasonable measures, and how can you help the jury view the case through your eyes? You must first go to the crime scene and begin reviewing any security efforts that the defendant undertook.

A crucial part of evidence development in these cases is examining the premises and putting the security measures into context. For example, a client was stabbed to death in his aunt’s apartment complex parking lot as he went to the vending machines near the community swimming pool.1 The complex gave a rent-free unit to a courtesy security officer who was also a local police officer and claimed to perform three daily patrols around the property with an enormous dog and a pistol. She also submitted observation reports to management. I was deflated by this proactive security regime until the officer and on-site managers were deposed.

Through public record requests, I obtained the officer’s call schedule for her official police duties for the previous three years. The three daily patrols she claimed she conducted could not be reconciled with her documented obligations for the city police department. The nuisance crimes of vandalism and drug use at the community swimming pool were incompatible with her insistence that once she locked the common area amenities at night, the property was under control. And somehow her fellow officers failed to inform her of four robberies and a carjacking that occurred at the complex while she lived there. At trial, the plaintiff’s counsel was able to expose this façade, and the jury found the complex was 100 percent liable.

In another case, my client was shot in the face at a gas station near the Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds during the annual fair. My first few visits to the property were unremarkable, so I wondered how we could convince any jury that this ordinary gas station should have employed security. So we waited to visit again until the next year’s county fair.

By comparing surveillance video from a normal Friday night with video from the same time and date during the following year’s county fair, we were able to show the massive increase in foot and vehicle traffic during the fair. We did not advocate that there was anything wrong with the gas station itself – but we explained that for two weeks each year, it assumed an entirely different criminal profile, and increased security measures should have been deployed. Understanding your site will help you stay focused on the defendant’s duty to appreciate the foreseeable risk and act on it.

(Pictured: Attorney Christopher Marlowe)

Sometimes, when security is compromised, there will be a debate about whether armed or unarmed security was appropriate for a property. The jury is unlikely to punish a defendant for choosing unarmed over armed guards if the choice was based on intelligence and made after informed deliberations.

Other security decisions become central to the case. Premises owners and managers often use security vendors, who make recommendations for protecting the property against crime. The vendor invariably will have suggested implementing the most comprehensive security system, but the defendant chose a lesser program due to cost. Driving a wedge between the vendor and the property manager becomes very important, and you can do this with the assistance of either entity’s former employees. Defendants usually are not on the same page as their vendors about crime on the premises, the necessary remedies, or the rationale for the choices made.

Familiarity with crimes that occurred on the property is fundamental. Do not rely on crime statistics or grids. Read every police report from the property, going back at least three years from your client’s assault. What may appear to be a simple property crime can yield the greatest notice and foreseeability witnesses. For example, a police report showing theft of a cell phone from a vehicle may appear trivial and unrelated on its face. However, the victim of that property crime often will have reported it to management and felt violated by that intrusion, especially if it happened more than once. The best witness regarding notice of on-premises crimes may be a robbery victim who constantly complained to management.

As the defendant tries to distract your attention from the core issues, refocus the case on specific criminal incidents and what the defendant failed to do in response to each. Make sure to use police reports when deposing the defendant – it will force them to admit, repeatedly, that they either did not know of the crime or that they did not make any changes in response to it. Specific crimes will help you show the jury that your case is not about crime generally or in the city where the property is located – it is about crime on this specific property.

Negligent security cases can consume thousands of hours from inception to conclusion. You must contend with both criminal and civil investigations, witnesses who may reasonably fear retribution, properties in crime-ridden areas, and even clients whose presence at the time of the incident concerns jurors. To get past these difficulties, it is crucial to maintain your focus on proving that the defendant’s security measures were inadequate.

 

Learn more about The Haggard Law Firm by clicking here

Notes:

1.   Almaguer v. MIG Pines Dev., Ltd., No. 08-50972 CA 21 (Fla., Broward Co. Cir., Mar. 25, 2010).

National Swim Safety Month – Updating/Maintaining Gates, Fencing, Pumps Can Save Lives

Drowning is the leading cause of death for young children in Florida. Communities throughout the state are filled with rivers, lakes, canals and streams.  Waterfront property is attractive, and residential communities everywhere hold out their frontage along a body of water as an asset.  While often mindful of the risks posed by swimming pools, too many residential owners are not aware of the risks associated with other bodies of water.

A residential property owner in Florida will generally not be held responsible for a drowning in a natural body of water that simply is adjacent to the property.

 

However, encouraging the active use of the water could subject the owner to liability, as could facilitating its use to guests or the general community.  If the water is not intended for swimming or other recreational activities, making changes to fencing and barriers is problematic if the barrier is not properly maintained and in accordance with applicable codes and regulations.  Posting warning signage, if permitted by community regulations and applicable ordinances, can increase awareness to others to not enter the water.

If water use is encouraged and intended, as with a lake or river for fishing or waterskiing, the owners along the lake generally will not be liable to others for accidents upon the water, unless a separate act of negligence is related directly to that owner which caused or contributed to the accident.

As with any potentially dangerous condition, think about how that hazard is likely to interact with the people who visit your property.  If water use is not allowed, make sure this fact is communicated to visitors.  If water activities are a feature of the property, have policies in place that ensure the visitors know where, how and when access to the water is allowed, together with prominent notifications that the water is or is not being monitored by life guards.

In January 2003, our firm won a$100 million verdict in the case of a toddler who nearly drowned in her apartment complex pool because she gained access to the pool area through a broken pool gate (Hinton v. 2331 Adams Street Corp).

In August 2003, the firm made history again by attaining a $104 million verdict in a case where a boy got trapped underwater by the suction of a defective and unsafe pool pump (Peterson v. Sta-Rite).

Our attorneys also strive for tightened safety rules for pools in homes, apartments and hotels. Our work representing victims has spurred changes in state codes and laws governing pool safety.

This cases do not have to occur.