. .

Invest in your success.
JVRA helps lawyers win cases by providing critical information you can use to establish precedent, determine demand and win arguments.

ARTICLE ID 47407

$________ - SECURITY NEGLIGENCE - DEFENDANT WHITE CASTLE RESTAURANT IN HIGH-CRIME AREA CHOOSES NOT TO FIND REPLACEMENT SECURITY PERSONNEL AFTER RETIREMENT OF POLICE OFFICER WHO HAD PROVIDED LONG-TERM SECURITY SERVICES WHILE OFF DUTY AND COORDINATED USE OF OTHER OFF-DUTY - PLAINTIFF SHOT IN BACK BY .9MM HAND GUN AND PARALYZED AFTER ALTERCATION IN RESTAURANT MOVES TO PARKING LOT - .45 CALIBER GUN FOUND AT SCENE - DEFENDANT ARGUES WEAPON PROBABLY BELONGED TO PLAINTIFF AND THAT PLAINTIFF WAS PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE FOR INCIDENT - ASSAILANT NEVER IDENTIFIED.

Essex County, New Jersey

In this action, the male plaintiff in his mid-20s contended that the defendant White Castle, situated in a high-crime area of Newark, negligently failed to provide adequate security. The plaintiff maintained that for some years, the defendant had utilized the services of a particular off-duty Newark police officer, who would generally coordinate scheduling and obtaining of other off-duty officers when he was not available to provide security. The plaintiff contended that when this individual retired from the police force approximately three months earlier, and was no longer providing services to the defendant, the defendant negligently failed to make alternative security arrangements. The plaintiff maintained that as a result, during a physical altercation that initially involved his two friends and some other customers, he went into the parking lot and was shot in the back by an unknown assailant. The plaintiff contended that if the defendant had continued providing security guards wearing their Newark police uniforms and carrying guns, it was doubtful that the incident would have occurred.

The plaintiff testified that as he was leaving the men’s room, he observed his two friends embroiled in a physical altercation with other patrons. The plaintiff, who was carrying a bottle, jumped into the fray and hit an individual in the head with the bottle. The evidence reflected that a well respected local individual who was in the restaurant, and who was not involved in the altercation, then directed the participants to go outside and engage in a "fair fight." The plaintiff maintained that such a "fair fight" entailed one person from each group fighting each other, but did not limit the weapons which could be used. One of the plaintiff’s companions was to fight one of the individuals from the other group. The plaintiff contended that as he went outside and opened the trunk of his car to put away a good jacket he was wearing in case he became involved in the fight, he was shot in the back.

The plaintiff maintained that the defendant negligently failed to implement a security plan which it was aware was necessary. The defendant related that after the previous officer retired, it asked the precinct Captain to place a notice on the bulletin board, but conceded that it did not follow up on this request. The defendant also indicated that it had had a poor experience with a private security firm some 15 years earlier and did not wish to pursue this avenue again. The plaintiff’s security expert would have related that the records reflected both a significant number of police calls and responses relating to this 24-hour per day eatery and to the neighborhood in general. The expert would have also discussed the so called "CAP Index," which looks at such factors as crime statistics, unemployment and income levels in different neighborhoods. The expert maintained that the crime rate was 9-10 times higher in this neighborhood than the average crime rate and that it was clear that security should have been a major concern to the defendant.

The evidence reflected that the plaintiff had been shot with a 9 mm. handgun and that a .45 caliber gun was found at the scene. The defendant would have presented an employee to testify that she saw the plaintiff with this gun. The defendant would have argued that based upon this evidence, it was clear that the plaintiff’s own culpability was very high and greater than any fault on the part of the defendant, which was not the assailant. The plaintiff would have countered that the gun could not been seen in either the actual security videotapes, which were of "choppy" quality, or in still frames which were created from the tapes and the plaintiff would have argued that the defendant’s position that the gun belonged to him should be rejected. The defendant would have further maintained that it was highly doubtful that an individual would simply leave such a weapon at the scene and that it was far more likely that it was, indeed, the plaintiff’s gun. The plaintiff would have countered that the gun could have been left by any individual at the melee and that in view of the apparent inability of the defendant to point to any taping to support it’s contentions, it’s position should clearly be rejected.

The plaintiff suffered spinal cord severance at T-3, leaving him a paraplegic from the mid-chest level down. The plaintiff also suffered a condition of heterotrophic ossification involving bony growth/fusion of both hips that necessitated surgery to enable him to sit in the wheelchair more easily. The plaintiff suffered a surgical complication of severe infection at the surgical site and required numerous surgeries in the ensuing two years to close the wound, which was ultimately accomplished shortly before the case would have been tried.

The plaintiff was studying web design and had approximately one more year to go until he completed the program. The plaintiff maintained that he would have earned approximately $________ per year. The plaintiff’s proofs would have reflected that he will be able to work in this field on a part-time basis and that his earnings potential is reduced by approximately 50%. The plaintiff would have presented a life care plan involving costs such as medical and nursing care and the costs of renovating the home. The plaintiff’s economic claims would have exceeded $3.5 million.

The case settled prior to trial for $________.

To read the full article, please login to your account or purchase

5 ways to win with JVRA

JVRA gives you jurisdiction-specific, year-round insight into the strategies, arguments and tactics that win. Successful attorneys come to the table prepared and use JVRA to:

  1. Determine if a case is winnable and recovery amounts.
  2. Determine reasonable demand for a case early on.
  3. Support a settlement demand by establishing precedent.
  4. Research trial strategies, tactics and arguments.
  5. Defeat or support post-trial motions through past case histories.

Try JVRA for a day or a month, or sign up for our deluxe Litigation Support Plan and put the intelligence of JVRA to work for all of your clients. See our subscription plans.