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Premises Security Experts, Inc.

Safety & Security Professionals

CALL: 609-822-2626

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HOW TO WIN A PREMISES SECURITY CASE

Posted on December 8, 2021 at 2:40 PM

HOW TO WIN A PREMISES SECURITY CASE


By


Andrew P Sutor


We live in dangerous times, especially when venturing outside of our homes and residences to engage in necessary commerce and participate in the general "pursuit of happiness." Unfortunately and far too often, people fall victim to violence, crime, or serious injury while doing so.


Innocent victims often are forced to seek out legal redress and compensation for their loss through their attorneys. Most of the elements of these cases are obvious: serious damage was done, a likely breach of the legal duty and moral obligation of someone to provide for a minimum standard of care for their customers, patrons, and guests. The question is, how does counsel prove proximate cause and negligence in the case?

 

To bring a case to a successful conclusion, plaintiffs' attorneys need to establish the actual level of, and foreseeability of risk at the time and place of their occurrence. The level of prior crime on and near the property is needed to determine the level of risk that was present.

 

Once that is established, attorneys need to make their case around the evidence that the defendant's security measures in the face of that risk were inadequate or unreasonable. A competent expert in the security field can determine the level of risk and whether, or not, the security provided by the defendant was adequate or reasonable.


The actual "foreseeability" of risk required for the successful prosecution of your case is often hidden, and hard to prove. Defendants in negligent security cases often have a vested interest in under-reporting crime and minimizing the actual risk to the public mainly because reasonable and proper security performed by professionals is quite expensive. Furthermore, many defendant companies do not want to record events that would demonstrate their civil liability. Additionally, the truth is often willfully concealed because it is bad for business if their customers knew the truth about the risk involved.


In other words, many defendants willfully ignore the true threat to guest safety and security and fail to provide adequate and reasonable security to address that foreseeable risk. This behavior is a shortsighted and reckless attempt to increase margins and profits. Obfuscation, downgrading, and confusion about crime and risk exist and even proliferate in many industries. Where must plaintiffs' attorneys go to establish the actual foreseeable risk facing their client/victims in a premises security case? How does one obtain accurate and factual information while taking a scientific approach to complying with the tenants of the rules of evidence?

 

To determine the actual level of risk existing at the time and place of the incident, a security expert is required. John Leighton, Esq., one of the nation's foremost lawyers handling premises security cases, proclaims, "Expert witnesses are almost always necessary to bring an inadequate security case. Since the plaintiff has the burden of proving foreseeability and negligence and causation, doing so without expert testimony is almost impossible."

 

Knowledgeable security experts make use of public and private sources on crime and risk, such as the FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR). The eight most common serious index crimes listed in the UCR are Homicide, Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Larceny, Auto Theft, and Arson.

 

There are also private companies such as CrimeCast that can provide accurate and graphic data on index crimes and forecast risk at a particular address or location. It should be noted that this data is also available to the defendants involved in negligent security cases before the event even occurred.

 

Police departments have computerized communications systems that provide an extraordinarily accurate record of all founded police actions at a particular location within the agency's jurisdiction. This relevant crime data is automatically gathered, mainly by 911 calls. These sources of foreseeable risk data will enable your security expert to provide a stronger opinion in considering the totality of the circumstances in determining the level of negligence and the proximate cause of your client's injury.


Andrew P. Sutor is a Principal at Sutor & Associates, LLC, which provides professional security consultation and expert witness services for law firms and attorneys pursuing premises liability and negligent security cases. Attached you will find a catalog of Sutor’s publications addressing the issues raised in this article on “How to Win a Premises Security Case.” Feel free to contact him for complimentary copies of any articles concerning the matter before your office. He can be reached at [email protected] or 609.822.2626.

 

EXPERT’S PUBLICATIONS – CATALOG

 “The Bandit Has Two Arms” November 2011

Security Directions Magazine, American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS)

 

“Warning - A Public at Risk!” November 2011

InBrief Magazine, New Jersey Association for Justice, Trenton, NJ

 

“Negligent Security” May 2013

N. J. Bar State Association, ICLE Seminar, New Brunswick, New Jersey

 

“Proving Foreseeability” February 2014

InBrief Magazine, New Jersey Association for Justice, Trenton, NJ

 

“The Importance of Timely Site Inspections in Negligent Security Cases” January 2015

Security Directions Magazine, American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS)

 

“Uncovering Spoliation of Evidence” February 2015

InBrief Magazine, New Jersey Association for Justice, Trenton, NJ

 

“How Foreseeable Was It?” June 2017

The Philadelphia Lawyer, a quarterly magazine, Philadelphia, PA

 

“Litigating Premises Security Cases” May 2018

PA Bar State Association, ICLE Seminar, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

 

“Is Your Security Guard Dangerous?” January 2018

Security Directions Magazine, American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS)

 

Blogs - Published Posts in Legal and Law Enforcement Communities:

o “A Timely Site Inspection May Clinch the Case.” June 30, 2015

o “Your Negligent Security Case - Proving Foreseeability.” July 7, 2015

o “Uncovering Spoliation of Evidence.” July 21, 2015

o “Determining Foreseeable Risk.” August 5, 2015

o “Proving Causation: The Rosetta Stone.” August 24, 2015

o “Hear no, See no, Speak no Evil, - Willful Ignorance.” September 2015

o “The Enablers.” November 9, 2016

o “Risk – How Foreseeable Was it?” May 2016

o “The Scientific Method.” May 2016

o “Crime and Risk Cover-Ups” June 2016

o “Proving Foreseeability” May 2017

o “What is Reasonable Safety and Security?” June 2017

o “Defense Ploys: The Three D’s” August 2017

o “Mandalay Bay Shootings” October, November 2017

o “Debunking the Casino Surveillance Mystique” November 2017

o “The Mandalay Bay Massacre – How foreseeable was it?” October 2018

o “Accurate crime and risk data, “Now you see it, now you don’t” December 2018

o “Why You Should Listen to Your Expert.” January 2019

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