The Nuts And Bolts of Negligent Security Cases
By: Michael Haggard (Bio) and Christopher Marlowe (Bio), The Haggard Law Firm
Negligent security cases are time consuming, very costly, require a hyper attention to detail, a team effort and knowledge of foreseeability, and in many cases criminal law and a ‘typical’ negligent security case does not and will not ever exist. Our firm has handled hundreds of these cases over the years and have obtained more than $400 million in results for our clients. We can most affirmatively say the immense challenges of these cases are outweighed by the results that can help bring justice to a victim or family that the criminal justice system may never be able to provide, while also changing the way a business or entire industry operates.
In a wrongful death car accident case, we all know to preserve evidence, request the relevant reports, statements and traffic homicide reports. We contact the witnesses tied to this particular moment in time, hound law enforcement and medical examiners to make sure we have all evidence tied to the incident, and begin working these pieces into the theory we hope will increase the probability of success at the end of the case. While this basic and incomplete framework is an important part of a negligent security case as well, it does not account for the historical analysis necessary to place the subject incident in the perspective necessary to appreciate which theory is best, and why.
Power of Foreseeability: $100 million verdict
Like any of the most complicated areas of practice there are multiple layers to consider when litigating a negligent security case. Foreseeability of the act in question, most often a crime, is the first element of the case to consider. For example, it is good to know whether a particular shooting or sexual assault occurred in the common area of an apartment complex, over which the owner or manager had exclusive control. It is important to know whether there is a history of any such activity upon the Premises, and in the areas adjacent or related thereto. There is a history of cases where the Plaintiff counsel assumes that because the crime does not appear to be a “hit” and because the crime on the property is “bad” that their case is a winner. Some of the most common arguments by defense council are tied to the character of the victim or because the area may have a high crime rate there isn’t much the property owner could have done to stop the incident that caused the death or harm of your client. In most states, neither argument has much merit because of the statutes that lay out the responsibility of the property owner to take reasonable measures to protect all guests, residents or customers on a commercial property from harm. In November 2007, we successfully obtained a $102.7 million verdict in a negligent security shooting case thought to be the largest verdict of its kind in the country. We represented a patron of an exotic dance club. Our client sat waiting in his car for his friend to return from retrieving his wallet when he was approached by an unknown person who attempted to rob him at gunpoint. The assailant shot our young client. The bullets rendered him a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic. The jury found that the strip mall where the club was located did not have sufficient security, as there was only one guard on duty. The strip mall’s ownership admitted they had never spent one dollar on security or safety despite the fact there were 26 violent crimes on the same property during the seven years prior to the shooting of our client. Video on Case
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