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Hillsborough County

This was a negligent security action which arose from the ________ carjacking and shooting of a 20-year-old college student from the parking lot of the Remington Apartment Homes in North Tampa. The defendants in the case included the apartment building owner and the management company. The plaintiff claimed the defendants failed to provide adequate security to prevent the crime and failed to advise the plaintiff of the high crime rate at the premises. The plaintiff sought punitive as well as compensatory damages. The defendants maintained that they took reasonable security measures and contended that the crime was not preventable.

The plaintiff was a 20-year-old female pharmacology student at the University of South Florida who rented a first floor apartment in the defendants’ complex. On December 13, ________, the plaintiff returned to her apartment at approximately 11:00 p.m.

and parked her vehicle. As she was exiting the car, she was approached by two men who forced her into the passenger side of her vehicle at gun point. The plaintiff was driven around for a period of time, forced from the car and shot three times in the head. She managed to crawl some ________ yards to a nearby residence where help was summoned.

Evidence showed that security at the apartment complex was comprised of an unmanned automatic gate at the complex’s only entrance/exit, perimeter fencing and individual burglar alarms in each unit. The security gate required a pass code for entry. A private security company was terminated by the defendant in January ________ and three Tampa police officers were retained to provide security patrols in exchange for free apartment rent. The plaintiff contended that she chose the defendants’ apartment complex because the defendants’ agents misrepresented that it was a safe and secure place to live.

The plaintiff’s security expert testified that local crime grids showed that the defendant apartment complex was located in an area of high crime with reports of prior vehicle thefts, burglaries, robberies and rapes occurring on the premises. The plaintiff contended that the defendants were obligated to inform potential tenants, including the plaintiff, of the high-crime nature of the neighborhood and premises and that such information would have altered the plaintiff’s decision to move into the apartment.

The plaintiff alleged that the defendants’ security measures were lax and that the security gates were often broken, alarms unmonitored and lighting poor. The plaintiff’s security expert opined that the plaintiff’s abduction and shooting could have been prevented by stationing a guard at the security gate, controlling gate access, providing better lighting and instituting regular security patrols in the parking lot. p 7 3 The plaintiff’s physicians testified the plaintiff has been left with cognitive impairments, memory and concentration difficulties, post-traumatic stress disorder, partial loss of hearing and facial scarring as a result of the attack.

The men responsible for the crime were eventually apprehended and are currently serving prison terms. Evidence showed they entered the apartment complex by driving behind a slow-moving vehicle as it passed through the automatic security gate.

The defendant’s security expert testified that the number of crimes at the apartment complex was not unusually high for the area, which did exhibit a large number of reported crimes. He opined that the perpetrators of the crime against the plaintiff were determined to hijack a car that night and the crime would not have been prevented by the measures suggested by the plaintiff’s expert. One of the defendants’ executives testified he did not believe the complex was obligated to advise residents regarding crimes committed on the premises. The defense pointed out that when it purchased the apartment complex in ________, it erected a perimeter fence and added the electronic gate at the entrance to increase security at the location. The defendant also introduced evidence that its female apartment manager had joined a local neighborhood watch program, invited tenants to also join the neighborhood watch and had received a commendation from local police for her crime-prevention activities.

The jury found for the plaintiff in the amount of $________ including $________ in compensatory and $________ in punitive damages. The case is currently on appeal.

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