Understanding the Security Negligence Case

A. Duty-What is the obligation of the property owner, business owner, other person or entity in control to your client
  1. State law question
  2. Maintain property in reasonably safe condition
    1. Discover and correct or warn of dangerous latent conditions about which defendant knew or should have known in the exercise of reasonable care
    2. Responsibility that goes with control or right to control-how you select defendants who should be sued
    3. Contract-lease, franchise, license, other entitlement to commercial advantage resulting in express obligation
    4. Statutory obligation
      1. Landlord-tenant
      2. Statutes that create a complementary duty for a grant of license, franchise, advantageous commercial position
      3. Statutes that expressly impose a defined duty such as fire regulations, occupancy limits, or other operational requirements.
B. Breach = Negligence
  1. No Security case
    1. Carelessness of the property owner, manager, operator
    2. Standards of care of the real estate, retail, special event, other specific business operation
    3. Foreseeability
      1. General-past criminal activity on property or nearby
      2. Use of property
        1. High risk-bank, jewelry store, bar, large or specialized patron
        2. Customers-young people, sports fans, children, others
      3. Specific known dangers
        1. Known dangerous persons
        2. Antagonistic groups such as gangs or sports rivals
        3. Prior threats or warnings
  2. Inadequate Security case-same situations as in no security case with substandard security program, system or operation
    1. Inadequate evaluation of security problem or needs
    2. Inadequate resources- personnel, training, supervision, equipment
    3. Cost or budget driven decisions about security
    4. Vulnerability of property
      1. Architecture
      2. Ingress/egress
      3. Size or physical characteristics
      4. Lighting
      5. Other property specific problems for safety
  3. Failure of Security-Contract security vendor is defendant
    1. Training, supervision, equipment, planning, reporting, other managerial failures
    2. Neglect or misconduct of security officers
C. Causation-Was the crime preventable?
  1. Deterrence of crimes of opportunity and crimes of passion
    1. Motivation of the criminal-money, revenge, paid attack, political, sexual predator
    2. Drunk, drugged, mentally unbalanced criminals
  2. The “it happened too fast” defense
  3. The “security intervention would have been too dangerous” defense
  4. The “security intervention wouldn’t have worked” defense
  5. Plaintiff involvement
    1. Aggression, provocation, or other instigation
    2. Sexual crimes-flirtation, suggestive dress, conduct or speech
    3. Known attacker-antecedent contributory conduct
    4. Self defense attempts-fighting back, screaming, and running
  6. Third party liability
    1. Apportionment to criminal actor
    2. Apportionment to others responsible for criminal actor-parents, spouse, parole or probation office, guardian, teacher, employer
    3. Apportionment to others for encouraging criminal actor such as his companions, political influences, social influences
    4. Apportionment to others involved with property such as tenants, neighbors, visitors, and bystanders.
  7. Miscellaneous contributors
    1. Acts of God-weather or natural disaster
    2. Power failure or other environmental causes
D. The Foreseeability / Preventability Equation Foreseeability + Preventability = LiabilityE. Damages
  1. Physical
    1. Injuries inflicted by violence often severe such as gunshot, knife, blunt objects.
    2. Generally don’t have to deal with the pre-existing injury defense
    3. Generally don’t have to deal with the force or impact or victim body kinematics defenses
  2. Emotional/Psychological injuries
    1. Expert witnesses
      1. Psychiatrist/Psychologist mental health diagnosis and treatment
      2. Neuropsychologist-testing and evaluation
      3. MSW or other therapist
      4. Forensic evaluation vs. therapeutic treatment
      5. Psychopharmacology
    2. Lay witnesses-before and after family, friends, neighbors, co-workers
      1. Relationship differences
      2. Productivity
      3. Mood, attitude, personality
    3. DSM IV
      1. PTSD
      2. Anxiety disorder
      3. Depression
      4. Substance abuse
      5. Behavioral disorders
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