|Posted on February 6, 2020 at 3:10 PM|
LITIGATING PREMISES SECURITY - INFORMATIVE CASE HISTORIES
In order to bring a premises security case to a successful conclusion, counsel requires accurate and reliable data on the foreseeable risk present at the time and place of the crime. As illustrated by the above header photo taken from one of my continuing legal education (CLE) classes on the topic, accurate risk data is often the missing link in such matters.
Taking a scientific approach to expert opinion in conformance with the principles of Daubert and Frye, accurate crime and risk data is necessary in order to assess the appropriate level of security required to protect guests and the general public.
The below graph illustrates the high risk of crime in and around the Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa in Atlantic City where our CLE class on “Litigating Premises Security Cases” was held:
NJ Bar CLE Class August 8, 2019, Atlantic City, New Jersey
This expert relies on several important sources of accurate crime information, including FBI UCR reports, local police department Computer-Aided Dispatch Reports (CAD reports), and CAP reports from CrimeCast. What follows are some significant negligent security cases whereby I served as an expert in assisting counsel in developing a scientific approach in presenting the essential.:
Young Li Kim, a sales clerk in the Hair Town shop in the Cedarbrook Plaza Mall in Cheltenham Twp., PA intervened in a robbery of his store and was fatally impaled on a wig display case. There were sixty-two stores in that dangerous complex protected by a single security guard who did not speak English.
Although the defendants proclaimed ignorance, we were able to secure Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) reports from the Cheltenham PD that consisted of five hundred pages, single-spaced, of crimes reported at the mall during the five years leading up to Mr. Kim’s horrible death. (Kang v Cedarbrook Plaza & U.S. Securities Associates Inc., Phila. CCP: April Term, 2013, No. 03386)
Ann Yuille, a nurse at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia clocked out from her 4 to 12 shift one evening. The mother of five called her family and told them she was on her way home. She was waylaid in the defendant’s unprotected parking garage, car-jacked, and take to an abandoned lot in the ghetto, sexually assaulted and then, shot to death. The defendant’s premises was located in a particularly risky area.
As a police detective, decades earlier, this extraordinarily dangerous setting of North Philly was referred to in law enforcement circles as the “Bad Lands!” So how bad was it? In the Yuille wrongful death case, I utilized CrimeCast reports to document the risk of violent crimes at the defendant’s premises including crime data five years prior to the rape/murder of nurse Yuille. (Note: the FBI violent crimes in the CAP report include Homicide, Rape, Robbery and Aggravated Assault, all of which were perpetrated upon Mrs. Yuille that night.)
Temple Hospital was sited in a virtual sea of red ink graphically indicating the high level of risk of violent crime in and around their grossly unprotected property. We were able to prove that the multi-billion-dollar defendants, Temple and Securitas AB turned a blind eye to the risk and failed, miserably, to protect Ms. Yuille from harm. (Yuille v Temple & Securitas AB, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas)
The Plaintiff, Mr. Sirisuk Didsapong, Galloway Township, New Jersey, a casino dealer, was a lawful business invitee of the Defendant. Mr. Didsapong was robbed and assaulted by knife while using the Defendant’s restroom located on the second-floor aisle way to the Taj Mahal casino parking garage.
CrimeCast reports revealed that Mr. Didsapong, the victim was attacked in the highest risk section of Atlantic City. To illustrate the level of risk for violent crime in that extremely dangerous city, FBI UCR reports indicate that Atlantic City suffers a higher crime rate than the notorious high-crime cities of New Jersey, Camden and Newark. Due to the determination of crime rates being per 100,000 persons, Las Vegas, Nevada with a higher population actually has a lower crime rate despite having many millions more visitors than does Atlantic City.
CAD data obtained from the Atlantic City Police Department revealed that, despite the claims by the head of security that “crime was insignificant” at the Taj Mahal Casino, there were over 11,000 police calls listed on the CAD report during a 5 ½ year period. That included hundreds of serious crimes and four separate homicides at that particular casino hotel in a single year!
To further illustrate the level of risk by utilizing actual violent crime counts vis a vis crime rate, please consider this: Atlantic City sits on the eastern end of the ten miles long Absecon Island. FBI UCR reports indicate that If you traveled from the safe community of Longport on the western end, a few miles into Atlantic City on the eastern end of the island, the risk of becoming a victim of a violent crime increases by 7,410%! (Didsapong v Taj Mahal, Superior Court, Atlantic County, New Jersey)
The three aforementioned negligent security cases also have some commonality that may be of interest. All three of the victims are persons of color, of modest means and gainfully employed in the service industry. On the other hand, each of the defendants is a majority race owner/operator of a multi-billion-dollar entity that had the financial wherewithal to perform risk surveys and operate reasonable security for the protection of employees and guests but did not.
Sad to say, more recently the outrage of inadequate and negligent security continues even in these times of international terrorism and a spate of mass shootings in public places. With regard to the horrible Mandalay Bay mass murder case of October 1, 2017, whereby 59 concert guests were slain and many hundreds more injured, the CAP Index and UCR reports indicated that the risk was high. Based on that threat and our site inspection, the security provided was grossly inadequate to meet that risk. (Gasper v MGM, et al - Case NO.: A-17-762858-C)
The same can be said of the Cielo Vista Mall mass murder case of Saturday, August 3, 2019, in El Paso Texas. Armed police security coverage was eliminated prior to the slaughter of 22 unprotected innocents and the wounding of dozens more.
In each instance, multi-billion-dollar companies fail to protect their lawful business guests in the face of significant risk. How might it all end?
The general public will be better protected if, by force of large civil awards and penalties, the defendants expend the appropriate financial resources to ensure that more reasonable safety and security measures are taken. Only when the weight of such evidence results in substantial verdicts will these changes occur.