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Miami-Dade County, FL 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida

In this action, three sisters sued after they were assaulted in a parking lot. The sisters’ suit against the parking lot’s management was resolved with a jury verdict.

The plaintiff filed suit in the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida against Park One of Florida, LLC and the owner of the garage, Ocean Boulevard.

The defendant, Park One of Florida, LLC, is manager of a parking garage located in the heart of South Beach, Florida.

This negligent security action was brought by three sisters against the manager/operator of a South Beach parking facility where they were attacked and beaten by unidentified assailants. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant failed to have appropriate security measures to deter the crime. The defendant argued that its security was adequate, and that the incident was not the type which could have been deterred by additional security measures. The defense also contended that the plaintiffs were comparatively negligent for engaging in the altercation and disputed the injuries they claimed to have sustained.

The three plaintiffs, who were all in their early 20s at the time, parked in the defendants parking facility on November 18, ________, to go to a nightclub. The plaintiffs Helen, Samantha, and Selene R. testified that they were riding in the garage elevator to pick up their vehicle at approximately 2:30 a.m. when a group of strangers of both men and women started a verbal altercation. After the verbal altercation, the sisters left. Testimony established that, as the plaintiffs were exiting the elevator, the youngest sister, Selene R. made an obscene gesture at the group, giving the strangers “the finger.” The plaintiffs claimed that the group of unidentified strangers then pursued and pounced upon them, and beat the three girls into unconsciousness. The fight was stopped after a "Good Samaritan" reported the altercation.

Evidence showed that security cameras were installed in parts of the defendant’s parking garage, including the elevators, but the cameras in the elevator had never been hooked up. There were also signs posted, “This Area is Under Video Surveillance,” but the signs also stated, “Cameras are not continuously monitored.” The plaintiff argued that the sign basically told criminals that the premises were not monitored. In addition, hinges were broken on the garage’s back door, allowing access from the rear alley. The plaintiff introduced evidence of 31 prior criminal incidents on the premises, mostly auto thefts, but also several assaults.

The plaintiff’s security expert testified that the defendant’s hiring of security personnel for the garage only during Memorial Day weekend was inadequate in light of the high-crime location of the facility. This expert testified that the defendant should have posted a security guard, controlled access points and monitored the video cameras.

The plaintiffs sought damages on a negligence security claim for both physical and emotional injuries. The defendant argued comparative negligence by Selene R. for the obscene gesture. Helen R. suffered a fractured nose. Her sister Samantha suffered a fractured tooth and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Selene R. suffered a herniated lumbar disc and other injuries. The oldest plaintiff was diagnosed with a hand and tooth fracture, as well as nerve damage to several teeth as a result of the incident. She was an Army veteran who had served in Afghanistan. She contended that her combat experiences created a precursor to post-traumatic stress disorder, which was aggravated by the assault.

The middle sister claimed a non-surgical lumbar disc herniation and emotional injuries. She was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, and a multiple personality disorder, which she claimed was induced by the trauma of the assault. The plaintiff’s neuropsychologist testified that the middle sister developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the beating, was given narcotic pain medication for her back injury, became severely addicted to the medication and the post-traumatic stress disorder spiraled into dissociative identity disorder. The plaintiff’s neuropsychologist further testified that this plaintiff will require extensive prolonged in-patient psychiatric treatment.

The youngest sister suffered a nose fracture for which future surgery was recommended. The defendant argued that the crime was not preventable and was instigated by the plaintiffs. The defense contended that the physical altercation occurred because the middle sister gave “the finger” to the group in the elevator. The defendant’s security expert opined that the security in place at the time of the incident was adequate because there had not been a significant amount of prior crimes at the location.

The defense also argued that the older sister’s psychological problems were caused by her combat experiences and that the middle sister suffered from schizophrenia, which was not related to trauma.

The case against the owner was settled for $________.

After a week-long trial, the jury returned $________, with a finding of 95% liability against the defendant, with the remaining 5% comparative negligence levied against the youngest plaintiff, Selene R. The plaintiffs were awarded combined damages of $________. The oldest sister was awarded $________. The middle sister was awarded $________, including $________ in pain and suffering and $________ for future medical care. The youngest plaintiff was awarded $________ in damages. Each plaintiff previously served a proposal for settlement in the amount of $________. Post-trial motions are currently pending.

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