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San Bernardino Superior Court

In this case for negligent security, the plaintiff argued that the defendants’ failure to provide appropriate oversight of apartment community rules resulted in the plaintiff sustaining significant bodily injury at the hands of a gang member. The defendants denied all allegations of negligence and attributed the shooting to an unpreventable random act of violence.

The plaintiff, a 17-year-old high school student, resided at an apartment complex which hired private security for its residents. On August 26, ________, the plaintiff was sitting on the stairs of his apartment complex at about 12:30 a.m. with two of his friends. At the same time, in violation of the apartment complex’s rules, a large group of males who appeared to be gang members were having a party outside one of the other apartment units. Despite the blatant violation of numerous apartment rules, a security guard employed by the defendant Stratus Security was on duty and approached the individuals who were having the party, but failed to break it up or take any other action. Thereafter, the security guard left the area and the plaintiff was shot nine times by an individual who the plaintiff believed to be attending the party who was later identified as a member of the local “Crips” gang.

Bullets entered the plaintiff’s chest and stomach, as well as testicles, scrotum, shoulder and foot. Although he survived the shooting, the plaintiff had to have approximately 40% of his stomach removed and underwent 56 surgical procedures, including the above-the-knee amputation of both legs due to gangrene. The plaintiff will undergo numerous additional internal surgeries in the future. To date, the plaintiff suffers from shoulder pain, back pain, stomach pain, rectal pain, and phantom pain from missing limbs. In addition, the plaintiff must maintain a very restrictive diet and suffers from extensive digestive stomach issues.

The plaintiff sued the defendants for negligence. The plaintiff argued that the individual defendant security guard who was employed by the defendant, Stratus Security, failed to perform the duties that were required of him when he failed to break up the party. The plaintiff also argued that the security guard should have identified all of the individuals at the party, called ________ to report what he believed to be gang activity on the premises, and remained on the premises in order to observe and report on the gathering. Finally, the plaintiff asserted that the security guard should have warned the plaintiff about the gang members and advised the plaintiff that it was against apartment rules to be loitering on the stairs past 10:00 p.m.

The defendants denied all allegations of negligence. Instead, the defense argued that the security guard was only a “courtesy patrol” and his only duties were to be the “eyes and ears” of management; reporting improper activity, but not preventing it. Thus, the defendants asserted that it was not the security guard’s duty to prevent crime. In addition, the defense challenged the plaintiff’s ability to prove that the individuals that the security guard approached were the same individuals that shot the plaintiff. Finally, the defendants argued that the shooting was not foreseeable and that it was an unpreventable random act of violence.Ultimately, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff; awarding the total sum of $________. The jury apportioned fault as follows: 49% on the security defendants; 49% on the defendant shooter; and 2% on the plaintiff. Post-trial motions are pending.

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