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Hudson County

The male plaintiff tenant, age 69 at the time, contended that the defendant landlord negligently failed to replace security lights which had been malfunctioning for three to four days in a high crime area. The plaintiff also contended that the co-defendant security company negligently failed to report the outage to the landlord and that the two security guards negligently walked together while patrolling the five building complex, reducing the probable deterrent affect stemming from their presence. The plaintiff contended that as a result of the landlord’s negligence, he was mugged and thrown to the ground by an unknown assailant as he was walking on a ramp leading to the sidewalk at approximately 9:30 P.M. The plaintiff suffered fracture subluxation at C-6,7 which left him a paraplegic and which also left him with reduced movement and strength in the arms.

The plaintiff contended that the outside security lights had been malfunctioning for three to four days. The plaintiff maintained that in view of the evidence that the building was located in a high crime area, it was especially foreseeable that such an attack would occur and that defendant landlord should have promptly replace the lights.

The defendant landlord maintained that the area was relatively well lit even with the malfunctioning lights and that ambient light illuminated the area in which the incident occurred. The plaintiff countered that when the EMT workers arrived, they were required to use flashlights to find the plaintiff because of how dark the area was. The defendant contended that the individual who found the plaintiff was able to see him without a flashlight.

The plaintiff’s security expert contended that the absence of lighting significantly increased the risk to the tenants and that adequate lighting would be likely to have a deterrent affect on a perpetrator. The plaintiff also established that the landlord’s agent who worked on the premises was generally escorted to her car when leaving after dark.

The defendant denied that this crime could have been deterred by better lighting. The defendant maintained that the violent nature of the attack reflected that the assailant was determined to harm the plaintiff and that in view of such a consideration, it was doubtful that better lighting would have deterred him. The plaintiff denied that this position should be accepted. The plaintiff also maintained that it was very likely that the assailant pushed the plaintiff down in order to escape quickly, rather than to cause injury, and that it was probable that he would have been deterred by better lighting.

The plaintiff’s expert further contended that based upon crime statistics obtained from the FBI, a formula is used to compare different areas for safety. The expert contended that by using this formula, known as the CAP Index, it was clear that the area was dangerous and that the defendant should have used better vigilance. The plaintiff contended that although there were no similar identical incidents, there were a sufficient number of assaults in the immediate vicinity to render this incident highly foreseeable.

The plaintiff had also named the security guard company as a co- defendant, contending that it should have reported the outage to the defendant landlord immediately. The defendant security company’s personnel denied in their depositions that it had such a duty. The plaintiff countered that the supervisor could not dispute that they had such a duty and the plaintiff contended that it was clear that a breakdown in communications had occurred. The plaintiff’s expert also maintained that the two guards should have patrolled the five building complex separately, increasing their visibility and heightening the deterrent effect. The plaintiff additionally maintained that the security company should have posted one of the two guards in the area of the outage until the lights were repaired.

The plaintiff suffered a fracture dislocation at C-6,7 and required decompression surgery. The plaintiff maintained that he will be permanently confined to a wheelchair. The plaintiff also maintained that the injuries affected his upper extremities to some degree and although he can use the arms, he has little strength and needs help getting into and out of his wheelchair.

The plaintiff is married and has two adult children. He was semi- retired and had worked as a tailor one day a week, earning approximately $________ per week until he was injured and indicated that he would have continued for some time.

The case settled prior to trial for $________ with the landlord paying $________ and the security company $________.

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