Premises Security Experts, Inc.
|Posted on December 8, 2021 at 2:50 PM|
WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO YOUR EXPERT
Andrew P. Sutor
You are a highly-educated professional, well learned in the law, who is a dedicated advocate for injured parties seeking justice in our complex jurisprudence system. As a capable and confident litigator, you are prepared to do battle with those who would thwart justice and deny your clients just compensation, sometimes at any cost including their practicing “willful ignorance” as to the facts in the matter and even spoliation of evidence.
To achieve justice for your injured clients and bring your premises liability/negligent security/wrongful death case to a proper and successful conclusion you, and your expert must follow stringent rules and legal standards laid down in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993). In essence, your expert needs to follow a scientific approach to the case and the analysis of the probative data therein to provide you with a strong opinion that supports your case.
This daunting task is not as easy as it may seem. Your clients have been injured, oftentimes while lawful business guests of your defendants. The defendants had a legal duty to provide a reasonable level of care to protect their clients, and others, from the foreseeable risk and future harm caused by their failure to do so. You mainly need reliable and accurate data on the actual risk facing your clients at the time and place of the incident to take a “scientific approach” in developing significant evidence relevant and material to the matter at hand. The accurate analysis of that critical data is critical to proving negligence on the part of the defendants and establishing the proximate cause of your client’s injuries.
There are significant obstacles to the acquisition of truthful and accurate risk data in many premises liability/negligent/security/wrongful death cases. Not the least among them is the despicable practice of “willful ignorance” by defendants, which is part and parcel of ignoring foreseeable risk facing your client. Quite often defendants “cut corners” on reasonable security in the face of foreseeable risk to the public in general and your client in particular. Another significant impediment is “spoliation of evidence” which is far too often widespread and pervasive in such cases.
Fortunately, an experienced and astute expert who is well versed in crime, crime reporting, and risk analysis is available to assist counsel in getting the truth of the matter. Your expert can obtain significant crime and risk data from public and private sources and the media. However, it takes a team effort in that your expert must work hand-in-hand with counsel to obtain other critical probative data and records through discovery, depositions, and OPRA/FOIL - (NY) public records. A knowledgeable and effective expert that specializes in such cases will be able to provide counsel with a list of potential evidence necessary for a scientifically based opinion that will pass the court “gatekeepers” under the Daubert standards.
Perhaps a copy of the “Missing Link” slide from my CLE classes on “Litigating Negligent Security Cases” will illustrate what you need to bring your premises security matter to a successful conclusion:
This scientific approach to collecting important evidence also enables your security expert to provide you with a strong opinion report on the matter at hand. This will, in turn, support you in prosecuting your lawsuit by establishing the totality of the circumstances and assist you, and the court, in determining the level of negligence and the proximate cause of your client’s injury. Although Daubert is a federal rule, it is highly recommended that it be followed in state civil cases as well.
Practitioners would be well advised to heed the sage advice of John Elliott Leighton, Esq., the premier attorney on “Litigating Premises Security Cases” (Thompson West, 2006). Attorney Leighton points out the necessity for an expert in inadequate security cases and recommends, “Pay careful attention to the items sought by the expert and work with the experts in formulating document requests and interrogatories for the lawsuit.” The bottom line here is that listening to your experienced security expert, especially one who knows “where the bodies are buried” and how to gain vital evidence enabling him to provide a strong opinion of negligence to make your case a winning one, is the way to go.
Andrew P. Sutor is a Principal at Sutor & Associates, LLC, which provides professional security consultant and expert witness services for law firms and attorneys pursuing premises liability and negligent security cases. He can be reached at [email protected]