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Articles Posted in Negligent Security

As a personal injury attorney helping seriously injured victims of crime in apartment complexes and business locations, so-called negligent security cases, Joseph Lipsky knows too well the affect a business owners’ ignorance of a rising crime rate can have the level of security they should have to protect their paying customers and tenants. Now, after a multi-year drop in violent crime, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is reporting that violent crime rose nearly four percent over the last year.  The FBI is also reporting a nearly eleven percent rise in the murder rate.  This disconcerting rise in crime should be on the forefront of all business and apartment complex owners and operators’ minds.

In Florida, the law requires business and apartment owners and operators to take precautions to protect their business invitees, that is, their paying customers, from crime which is foreseeable. Basically this means, businesses must keep abreast of crime on and around their property; and, depending upon that level of crime over the past couple of years, take reasonable measures to deter and prevent future crime from occurring.  One of the most valuable tools for business owners is the FBI crime report, which is based upon actual police reports from every police department across the United States.  Also, in Miami and the surrounding communities of Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines and Hollywood, most local police departments have readily accessible on-line instant crime data.

While a responsible business owner will regularly monitor the crime reports, so as to change the level of protection they provide for their customers, too many businesses bury their head in the sand and purposefully ignore the crime report and their customers’ safety. By reviewing nearby crime, a business owner who is concerned about the customers may justifiably install additional lighting, add video surveillance cameras, locked gates, fencing and armed guards. Florida law does not require every business to enact all of the various types of crime prevention techniques, but only those which are reasonable for their property based upon the history of crime on and around their premises.  Also, the law does not require a small mom and pop type business to have the same level of crime prevention as a large apartment complex, such as a government subsidized section 8 type property, or a large gas station.  Larger businesses generally have more resources to provide a higher level of crime deterrence than small less profitable ones.

Yesterday, we finished a six day trial in Miami Dade County involving negligent security and premises liability, with the jury awarding our client the sum of $1,826,000.00 for her personal injuries, including her medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering which they decided were caused by the apartment’s management company’s negligence in failing to protect her from reasonably foreseeable crime.

An intruder attacked our client while she was on the apartment’s property. The intruder was able to access the apartment complex due to their failure to have the appropriate deterring fences, failing to have a security guard on the property 24 hours a day, and by failing to inform the residents that there had been over 150 incidents of crime or police activity on the property for the prior three years.

After litigating the case for over two years, we went to trial because the apartment company failed to make an offer on the case. After hearing all of the evidence, including the multiple failures of the management company’s employees to follow their company’s internal policies and procedures, the jury determined that the management company negligent.

In what appears to be another example of a business’ negligent failure to provide adequate security to their customers, two elderly patrons of the Isle of Capri Casino in Pompano Beach were were attacked while exiting the Casino. These attacks were the third such incidents to happen in the past month, the other two resulted in extensive personal injuries.

It seems the attacks began once the casino stopped using off-duty Broward County Sheriff’s deputies to provide security. Not surprisingly, none of the attacks were captured by any of the casino’s security cameras. As we too often see, the casino purposefully chose to only meet the requirements of their state licensing agreement, which only spell out a minimum level of security.

Too often in our practice we see businesses doing the bare minimum to protect their customers, rather than doing something which may cost slightly more, but would certainly add an extra measure of necessary protection to their patron. Certainly casinos who not only invite their customers to their properties, but encourage them to bring money to gamble, should do more to protect those customers.

Gunfire at a Riviera Beach nightclub late Sunday evening, due to an apparent lack of proper security, resulted in the wrongful deaths of two club patrons. The Caribbean Club in Palm Beach County was the location of the early morning incident in which an 18 year old and a 24 year old died.

Unfortunately, these types of incidents occur frequently at clubs and bars that negligently disregard their responsibility to provide proper security. In our practice we have seen too many premises liability cases in which club owners, looking to make a quick buck, disregard the safety of their paying patrons by failing to hire enough or properly qualified security guards.

Florida Law provides recourse to such injured customers, and their surviving family members, by requiring businesses to take reasonable steps to protect their customers from known or likely dangers. These dangers include attacks by other patrons and from people who are looking to rob customers as they enter or leave the businesses or use ATMs. In many situations, a review of the criminal history of a particular location will reveal that the business disregarded past criminal attacks and subjected their customers to a foreseeable criminal attack.

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