Articles Tagged with premises-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

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

In order to prove premises liability, plaintiffs must show that the property owner or manager knew or should have known that an unsafe condition existed and that there was a failure to warn or address the problem in a timely manner. fence

In the recent case of Wheeling Park Commission v. Dattoli, the West Virginia Supreme Court reversed a trial court damage award of nearly $56,000 (which plaintiff was hoping to have increased on appeal), finding plaintiffs did not establish a prima facie case of negligence because there was no evidence the park’s commission knew or should have known of the defect that reportedly caused plaintiff’s injury.

The incident in question occurred in September 2007 at a resort and conference center. Plaintiff was there with his wife attending activities at the park when he leaned against a split rail fence. As he did so, the end of the top rail broke into numerous pieces, causing plaintiff to fall down and injure his shoulder. Continue reading

A Florida law enacted several years ago requires that victims injured in slip-and-fall accidents on a business property have to prove the business was aware of the dangerous condition and failed to take action to remedy it or alternately warn patrons. The statute is F.S. 768.0755. homebroom

In most slip-and-fall accidents, it can be very difficult to prove “actual notice,” which involves showing the business knew of that exact spill for an amount of time during which they should have taken action. The alternative is to prove the business had “constructive notice,” which is that the business should have been aware of the danger because it existed for an extended period of time or occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable. The latter is known as “mode of operation.” That is, the condition occurred regularly because of the company’s “mode of operation,” and thus it was reasonable the staff, exercising due diligence, would discover it.

A similar standard exists in New Jersey, where the New Jersey Supreme Court recently affirmed a judgment in favor of plaintiff in Prioleau v. KFC, Inc. In this slip-and-fall case, the mode of operation theory was asserted as proof of the restaurant’s constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition, which was a transitory foreign substance on the floor.

Our laws hold property owners who invite others on site to a high standard in terms of protection of those guests. That involves making sure there are no unreasonable hazards and remedying those issues or warning guests when remedy isn’t immediately possible. grassypark

However, there are many caveats to these statutes, and recreational use statutes are among those. Florida’s recreational use statute is codified in F.S. 375.251. It states that there is a limitation on liability when the person has made available property or certain public areas for recreational purposes without charge. The statute indicates there is no presumption that the area is safe and there is no duty of care incurred by the land owner to those who use the site.

This is similar to the recreational use statute followed in Idaho, where the case of Hayes v. City of Plummer was recently weighed by the Idaho Supreme Court. The case stems from the serious injury suffered by a grandfather who fell on uneven ground that was concealed by grass while attending his grandson’s youth football game at a school park owned by the city.

One would think if an injury occurred as a result of an unsafe condition in a store, the store would be the correct entity to name as a defendant. However, in cases where workers or companies are subcontracted to work within those stores, the case may end up being a bit more complicated. store

Such was the situation in Kmart v. Footstar Inc., a dispute before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit between two partnering companies that stemmed from the injury of a customer in Hollywood, FL.

The store contracted with another company to carry out operations within its shoe department. The workers employed by the subcontractor in the shoe department could only work in the shoe department. As the panel of justices would later describe it, the subcontractor operations were run as though those departments were “islands.” The only way a shoe department worker could cross over into work in another department was if the store expressly granted permission to do so.