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Alleged negligent security at adult video store - Plaintiff raped at gunpoint - Lack of security guard - Lack of bulletproof booth - Dangerous late-night closing time - Post- traumatic stress disorder.

Miami-Dade County, FL (160303)

The plaintiff was a 27-year-old female employed as a clerk in an adult video store operated by the defendant when she was raped at gunpoint. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to implement adequate security to prevent the crime. Worker’s compensation immunity was not applicable because no physical injuries were sustained by the plaintiff. The defendant maintained that its security was adequate and that the plaintiff was targeted for the crime, making the crime unpreventable.

The plaintiff was in the course and scope of her employment as a clerk at the Pleasure Emporium in Miami Gardens, an adult video store open 24-hours per day. In the early morning hours of December 25, ________, the store was robbed and the plaintiff was raped at gunpoint. The jury viewed a videotape of the rape. The perpetrator, a 17-year old male, was subsequently arrested for the crimes.

The plaintiff argued that the plaintiff’s sexual assault could have been prevented by the presence of a security guard on the premises, a bulletproof security booth inside the store and an earlier closing time. The plaintiff contended that the defendant was put on notice of the forseeability of such crime by the fact that there had been four prior armed robberies at the store and the store was located in a high-crime area. The plaintiff contended that, other than increased lighting, the defendant did nothing to deter crime following the four previous robberies.

The plaintiff’s psychologist testified that the plaintiff suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety as a result of the sexual attack. The plaintiff contended that she has been unable to return to work.

The defendant contended that, although there had been prior robberies at the store, there had never been a sexual assault. The defense established that the store had a panic button to alert an alarm company and then police in the event of a robbery. The plaintiff contended that she had no opportunity to push the panic button when the assailant suddenly leapt over the counter behind which she was seated.

In addition, evidence showed that all customers had to be buzzed into the store and the store had good lighting, video surveillance and signs pointing out the video surveillance, according to the defense. The defendant contended that its security measures were reasonable and that the crime was an intended sexual assault against the plaintiff which would not have been prevented by additional security measures.

The jury, by a vote of six to zero, found no negligence on the part of the defendant which was a legal cause of injury to the plaintiff. The plaintiff’s motion for new trial is pending.