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Bergen County, NJ

The plaintiff contended that the defendant landlord of the family’s apartment, who provided a uniform security guard between the hours of midnight and 8:00 am, was negligent in failing to station a uniformed security guard 24 hours per day. The plaintiff supported that as a result, an assailant “tailgated” into the building by entering the building at approximately 8:30 am when another tenant was leaving the front door vestibule of the building. The assailant then stabbed a 29-year-old mother 34 times, killing her, and stabbed the 7-month-old child eight times, causing wounds that required a two-month hospitalization, which left him with deficits that primarily involved expressive speech delays. The father, who was at work at the time of the attack, found the mother and child when he returned during lunch, and the father made a claim for severe emotional distress under Portee vs. Jaffee.

The defendant denied that the crime statistics in the area were dangerous, and that posting a guard was necessary. The plaintiff would have argued that irrespective of the issue as to whether the statistics in the general area reflected a sufficiently high crime rate to mandate a 24-hour per day guard, the jury should consider that much of the surrounding area had been gentrified, and that the building in question remained low income, and that it was likely that criminals would be that much more likely to target this building.

The assailant was apprehended, convicted of murder, and sentenced to 40 years in prison. The defendants named the assailant as a third party defendant. The assailant testified at deposition that he was involved in a drug deal with the husband that had gone bad, that this factor was the reason over $________ was present in the apartment, and the defendant landlord and management company would have argued that in view of the assailant’s motives to rob the family, this was a planned revenge attack, and therefore, the presence of a uniformed guard would not have prevented the attack from occurring.

The father denied that this position was accurate, or that he previously knew the assailant. The father would have testified that it was not unusual for individuals in the community to have a distrust of banks, that he shared this view, and that because of this reason, he chose to keep this sum at his apartment. The plaintiff would have also contended that the assailant ’s suspicion that many tenants might have significant cash on hand provided an even more compelling reason to provide a security guard on a continual basis.

The decedent was stabbed 34 times and suffered wounds to her face, neck, torso, and arms. The cause of death was the perforation of the right internal jugular vein. The plaintiff contended that although brief, the pain and suffering attendant to dying in such a manner was clearly horrific

The child was stabbed some eight times, and was hospitalized for an approximate two month period. The plaintiff maintained that the extensive blood loss occasioned some cognitive deficits that are primarily related to expressive speech, which are permanent in nature. The plaintiff further supported that the significant scarring is permanent, and also argued that the loss of the wife and mother of his child obviously had profound consequences. The plaintiff would have presented expert economic testimony to discuss the various elements attendant to the loss.

The plaintiff also made a claim for severe emotional distress of the father, stemming from his discovery of his wife’s body and injured son when he returned to the apartment for lunch several hours after the attack. The defendants maintained that in view of the fact that the father did not observe the incident and discovered that the attack occurred when he returned home for lunch several hours later, there was an insufficient basis for the claim.

The defense pretrial motions for Summary Judgment included a motion on this issue and the Court held that the jury could consider the claim.The case settled prior to trial for $________.

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