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Recent Court Decisions


Name of Case: Chance v AMLI

Type of Action:  Negligent Security

Type of Injuries:  Abduction and Rape

Court & Case: U. S. Eastern District of Texas Court, Marshall Division, Case 205CV-464-TJW

Verdict/Settlement Amount: Jury verdict for the Plaintiff of $950,000

Attorney for Plaintiff:  Todd Clement, The Clement Law Firm, (972) 250-6363

Security Expert for Plaintiff: Norman D. Bates, Liability Consultants, Inc.

OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION: The Plaintiff was a resident at the AMLI Breckinridge Point Apartments in Richardson, Texas. She was abducted from her apartment and subsequently raped by her ex-husband. The assailant had burglarized the apartment unit earlier that day by climbing a ladder he had placed in plain view against the Plaintiff’s second floor balcony. He smashed his way through the glass of the patio door and returned later to wait in hiding for the Plaintiff, who was unaware of the unlawful entry into her unit.

The maintenance manager for the apartment complex had observed the ladder placed against the Plaintiff’s second floor balcony, but failed to investigate or notify anyone, even though he testified that he was suspicious.

Mr. Bates testified that, in addition to the inherent risk of burglary into apartment units generally, there was a substantially increased risk of burglary to the Plaintiff’s unit, as well as other more egregious criminal offenses, when a ladder was placed outside her second floor unit.  A ladder placed in this manner should have been suspicious, especially to the service manager, who was the individual responsible for overseeing all maintenance work performed at the site by AMLI employees and outside vendors. The patio door of the Plaintiff’s second floor unit was readily visible from the ground area immediately adjacent to the unit.  As such, any diligent investigation would have revealed that the patio door had been shattered which, coupled with the presence of the ladder, should have alerted the maintenance manager to the presence of potential criminal activity

Mr. Bates opined that the failure to investigate, inquire further, and notify the individuals noted above was in clear violation of AMLI  procedures governing such activity, as acknowledged by AMLI employees in their depositions, and was also a failure to comply with good and accepted practices for the apartment industry.

 


Name of Case: Deacon v. Santa Barbara City College

Type of Action: Negligent Hiring and Supervision

Type of Injuries: Rape/Psychological injuries

Court & Case: Santa Barbara County Superior Court, Case No. 1186288

Verdict/Settlement Amount: $1 million settlement

Attorney for Plaintiff:  Law Offices of John H. Howard, (805) 644-5894

Security Expert for Plaintiff: Norman D. Bates, Liability Consultants, Inc.

OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION:  The Plaintiff was a student at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) and was raped by a SBCC security officer while he was escorting her in a campus security vehicle. The assailant was from Malawi, Africa, and had been in the United States for six months prior to being hired as a part-time student security officer and had been employed for about 2½ years prior to rape. The Plaintiff put forth claims of negligent hiring, retention, supervision, and training of the security officer.

Norman Bates, Plaintiff's security expert, testified that there are substantial risks attendant to the employment of security officers given the nature of their responsibilities and duties especially in light of the fact that they are placed in a position of trust with both actual and apparent authority. These risks require that thorough pre-employment screening be conducted of such applicants by prospective employers. Mr. Bates opined that SBCC employed Kafatia without conducting any pre-employment screening, in spite of the risks posed by the position to be filled and contrary to recommended national crime prevention and campus protection practices for colleges and universities.

Mr. Bates testified that it was impossible for the college to obtain criminal history information from the country of Malawi and that, given the risks associated with the employment of security officers in a campus setting, it was unreasonable and inappropriate to hire an individual as a security officer whose background could not be verified.

Mr. Bates further testified that there was a history of misconduct and, as such, an increased risk of inappropriate behavior in this case due to the total lack of supervision of the student security officers working the weekend graveyard shift, that the defendants should have reallocated their existing workforce to provide 24-hour supervision coverage.

In light of the fact that the security department utterly failed to supervise student security officers on the weekend graveyard shift, including Kafatia, and the fact that it was extremely difficult if not impossible to perform a background check on Kafatia, he should not have been placed in the position of a security officer.  Kafatia could have still been employed at the college in another, lower risk position.  

 


Name of Case:  Novak v.Club Zei, et al.

Type of Action: Negligent Security/Third Party Assault - Nightclub

Type of Injuries: Head Injuries/Brain Damage

Court: U.S. District Court, Washington, DC

Verdict/Settlement Amount:  $4.1 million jury verdict

Attorney for Plaintiff:  Patrick Regan, Regan, Zambri & Long LLC, (202) 463-3030

Security Expert for Plaintiff:  Norman D. Bates, Liability Consultants, Inc.

OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION:  Plaintiffs were patrons at Club Zei in Washington DC.  The plaintiffs were attacked by a group of assailants when they left the club through the exit door.  There was no security assigned to the exit door area.  

Mr. Bates testified that the risk of unruly behavior is inherent when patrons are potentially intoxicated and that the end of the evening, at closing time, is inherently more dangerous than other times of the evening as patrons are more likely to be intoxicated, and any confrontations potentially started inside may be carried outside the club.  

Mr. Bates testified that the area into which the patrons were required to exit at the end of the evening was a more isolated area than the main entrance.   The patrons exited into a small alleyway, away from the front door. Not having a security presence in this location at the time of departure of the patrons increased the risk of assault.

Mr. Bates opined that the security provided by the defendants was inadequate given the risk of crime at the property, that the defendants should have provided a security presence outside the club to ensure the safety of the patrons as they exited the club, and that the off-duty officers failed to monitor the outside activity around closing time.  Mr. Bates testified that, given the facts of the case, had the officers been outside, they would have been a visible deterrent and would have been able to instruct any loiterers in the alley to move along. As a club security officer was already stationed inside the exit area to monitor for patrons exiting with bottles or glasses, the off-duty police officers should have been stationed outside for the protection of the patrons departing the club.

Mr. Bates testified that the common practice of nightclubs at the time of this incident was to have a security presence outside the establishment to ensure the safe arrival and departure of patrons.  The defendants acknowledged that other major nightclubs in the area utilized off-duty police officers and security personnel outside until the patrons had departed.





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