Articles Posted in Premise Liability

Many millions of people are at a Wal-Mart every day, whether to work or to shop. The world’s largest box store sees an influx of customers around the winter holidays. Recently, questions have arisen as to whether the store is doing enough to ensure customers and workers are reasonably safe. Property owners/ managers who invite the public on site for the financial benefit of the business owe those people the highest duty of legal care in making sure they are safe from an unreasonable risk of harm. This includes not just property defects (i.e., slippery floors, perilous walkways, improperly stacked merchandise), but also from foreseeable criminal assaults. parking lot

An investigation in August by Bloomberg Businessweek revealed that the retailers efforts at aggressive cost-cutting come at a steep price: Safety. The researchers delved into police and hospital records to reveal that hundreds of violent crimes happen at Wal-Mart stores every day, including attempted kidnappings, shootings, stabbings and murders. It breaks down to about one violent crime every day. Some police chiefs have actually spoken out against the retailer, arguing that taxpayers are effectively subsidizing security for the stores. One chief in Arkansas remarked that despite the fact that this is the world’s largest retailer, half is squad is there for hours on end throughout each shift, responding to calls. These problems were far worse at Wal-Mart, as compared to the chain’s rivals.

Now, a group of labor organizations are pressing for the company to do more to improve security in stores and surrounding parking lots. The groups have met with local and city officials in Florida, Oklahoma, Texas and Minnesota, asking that they declare the Wal-Mart stores in their communities to be a public nuisance, which increase the pressure on the company to improve security.  Continue reading

Trip-and-fall injuries can occur on a myriad of different walking surfaces, and are usually caused by an uneven walkway or some type of non-obvious obstruction or hole. These type of incidents can result in severe and sometimes disabling injuries, so it’s important to explore all potential legal options that could assist victims with medical bills and compensate for pain and suffering. pebbles

Still, as our Boca Raton injury lawyers can explain, the fact that an injury occurred is usually not in and of itself enough to secure compensation. There must be evidence that the negligence of the property owner or property manager caused the fall that resulted in injury. Property owners have a duty of care to those invited on their site, especially if it is for business purposes. Companies that invite customers on site for the benefit of the company have a responsibility to regularly inspect the site and to keep it reasonably safe of potential hazards. Where such hazards exist and cannot be immediately addressed, customers are owed a warning.

In the recent case of Piotrowski v. Menard, Inc., the assertion was that plaintiff tripped and fell on a couple of small rocks that she did not see in the store parking lot. She fell hard on the concrete and sustained serious injuries. She alleged the store owner was liable for her injuries. But she had a tough time proving that it was the negligence of the store that caused her fall. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently reviewed.  Continue reading

It was known as the “Ghost Ship.” It served as a showcase for a cluster of artist studios, illegal living quarters and the occasional underground dance party. Now, the shell of the warehouse in Oakland, CA is the site of one of the deadliest fires in recent U.S. history, and a stark reminder of why it is so critical that property owners abide by fire and safety codes.warehouse

Authorities report 36 people died at the venue, and prosecutors were exploring whether murder charges might be filed once the investigation is completed. It’s not clear exactly how the blaze started, but it’s possible that culpable negligence could lead to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. Those familiar with the space called it “a death trap,” cluttered with piled wood, furniture, haphazard electrical cords and just two exits. Before the fire, the property manager had reportedly been confronted several times by neighbors regarding trash in the street and on the sidewalk. He was reportedly resistant to inspectors responding to complaints or pressing him to comply with building codes. In a television interview after the fire, he spoke to the families of those lost, saying, “I surrender everything.”

The property owners – a mother and daughter – said they were not aware of the space being used as a dwelling. The family offered their condolences, but that is of little solace to those struggling with enormous grief right now – especially when there is so much evidence these deaths didn’t have to happen. They shouldn’t have happened. It will likely be asserted that but for the negligence of those responsible to keep this property safe, these deaths almost certainly wouldn’t have happened.  Continue reading

As we head into the holiday season, many individuals and families will be hosting gatherings where they will invite loved ones, friends and acquaintances. Party hosts should be aware that when they invite people onto their property, they assume a degree of responsibility for the safety of those guests – in some cases even after they leave.beers

There are two primary avenues for this: General premises liability law and social host/ dram shop law. General premises liability holds that property owners/ those in charge of a property owe a duty of care to those who are welcomed there to ensure they are reasonably safe. Then there are social host liability/ dram shop laws. F.S. 768.125 holds that persons who sell or furnish alcohol to persons who are not of lawful drinking age or who are known to be habitually addicted to alcohol can be liable for damages caused by or resulting from that person’s intoxication. Most often, this occurs in the form of drunk driving accident, but it could be applied to other scenarios as well.

The recent case of Rogers v. Martin, recently before the Indiana Supreme Court, involved a party guest who was killed in a drunken brawl at the end of a house party. Questions arose about the owner’s responsibility for his safety, as well as her liability for allegedly “furnishing”alcohol to the other person involved in the fight. Continue reading

There has been much news lately about defective or dangerous products that may cause injury – Exploding airbags. Exploding phones. Exploding hoverboards. These concerns are legitimate, but the products that cause the most injuries are those that are seemingly much more benign. Take shopping carts, for example.shopping cart

A study published by researchers from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio reports some 24,000 children are injured annually as a result of shopping carts. That’s 66 children every single day treated in hospital emergency rooms in the U.S. for injuries related to shopping carts. From 1990 through 2011, researchers tallied nearly 531,000 children suffering shopping cart injuries – many severe, including head injuries caused by falling from the cart. This was even after the shopping cart industry passed voluntary safety standards in 2004.

But it appears children aren’t the only victims. A Northeast Ohio woman recently won her personal injury lawsuit – and was awarded $1.3 million – for injury caused when she was mowed over by a motorized shopping cart, operated by a fellow customer.  Continue reading

Getting a workout is supposed to be beneficial to our health. However, there is growing evidence that certain equipment at the gym could be offsetting some of those benefits. treadmill1

Every single year, thousands of Americans are suffering serious injuries – including torn muscles, strained backs and broken bones – and even death from:

  • Falling off exercise equipment
  • Pushing weights that are too heavy
  • Dropping heavy weights

Of course, many who join a gym or exercise understand there may be some inherent risk in using certain equipment. However, when injuries occur, the question often becomes whether that risk was unreasonable. In some cases, there may be grounds for a product liability lawsuit. This would apply in cases where, for example, the equipment was defective or the manufacturer failed to warn of some danger that was known but not obvious. However, many of these cases involve some form of premises liability, when it’s alleged the gym failed to maintain adequate distance from other pieces of equipment. In the latter type of lawsuits, plaintiffs often must first overcome challenges posed by their previous signing of liability waivers as part of their membership. Usually, this involves asserting gross negligence, which liability waivers do not protect against.  Continue reading

Negligent security played an integral role in the death of a 59-year-old woman killed in her gated community home in Davie two years ago, her family alleges. The Sun-Sentinel reports the family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the property management company as well as the security firm hired to patrol the gated complex of WestRidge.

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Officials say the victim, Jill Halliburton Su, was stabbed to death during a home invasion robbery in September 2014. After she was killed, her son found her partially clothed body, hands and feet bound, in her own bathtub. Nearly two weeks after the horrific crime, a 22-year-old man was arrested and charged with murder. He managed to escape from a courtroom in Broward County this past July and was on the run for six full days before he was caught. He faces the death penalty if he’s convicted, though he insists he is innocent – and actually broke out of jail in order to gather evidence to prove it.

Aside from the pending criminal case, how can anyone other than the person who carried out the crime be held responsible for it? In civil litigation, negligent security is an assertion of premises liability negligence that a person or entity owed a duty of care to provide a certain level of security to someone and in failing to do so, caused them to be at risk of harm. It can be made in any place where there was a reasonable expectation of a certain level of security that as not delivered, resulting in injury.  Continue reading

A 16-year-old who suffered serious injuries after being bitten by a Labrador retriever while at a friend’s house in Connecticut has been awarded $1.4 million by a state court judge.labrador

According to TheDay.com, the teen, who just entered his junior year of high school, has already endured 10 surgeries due to the attack and will likely require at least two more in the future. The attack reportedly occurred in 2013 at the rental home of the dog’s owners, who later euthanized the dog. The victim allegedly suffered severe injuries to his face, left eye, chin, lip, neck, shoulder and chest. He had to be transported to the hospital via helicopter, as medical personnel feared at the time his injuries could be life-threatening.

This case shatters some of the notions some pet owners have that certain breeds are inherently safe. News reports indicate the attack was reportedly unprovoked and the dog, named “Bubba,” reportedly did not have a history of violence. Continue reading

When a person alleges negligence on behalf of a professional person who was acting in the scope of employment at the time of the purported wrongful act, it may be necessary for the plaintiff to secure expert witness testimony.

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In these cases, a finding of negligence necessitates plaintiffs prove the defendant deviated from reasonable industry standards. Mostly, we see this in medical malpractice cases, though it could apply in other situations too.

In the recent case of Bixenmann v. Dickinson Land Surveyors, Inc., the Nebraska Supreme Court was asked to decide whether the lower court erred in granting summary judgment to defendant land surveyors, who were alleged to have been negligent in placing stakes on a property over which plaintiff later tripped. The lower court had ruled plaintiff hadn’t proven his case because defendant was acting as a professional – licensed and regulated by the state – and no expert witness testimony had been presented to assert he’d violated industry standards.  Continue reading

Following a massacre at a nightclub in Orlando by an American security guard who claimed terrorist ties, Florida now has the dubious distinction of being the site of the largest modern-day mass shooting. nightclub

Investigators are still working to piece together what exactly happened and the true motive of Omar Mateen, a New York native who frequented the gay nightclub in the months before the horrific attack. They will also be looking at the kind of security the nightclub had and the emergency response.

In civil litigation, third-party attacks can be compensable by a business if the property owner/ manager could have foreseen the attack and failed to take adequate measures to stop it. For example, if a club that serves alcohol and is know to have frequent disturbances that require police intervention does not invest in hiring the appropriate number of bouncers and other staff to keep the crowd safe, it could be held liable for negligent security. Continue reading