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Alleged negligent security - Minor sexually assaulted in rented home - Inadequate door locks - Lack of proper exterior lighting - Post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Pinellas County

This action was brought on behalf of the minor plaintiff, a 15- year-old girl at the time of the incident, against the defendant owner of a home in Readington Shores. The minor plaintiff was staying in the home with her parents when she was sexually assaulted by an intruder.

The plaintiffs claimed that the assault resulted from inadequate locks and lack of proper lighting at the defendant’s property. The defendant maintained that the locks and lighting were adequate and that the crime was not foreseeable.

Evidence showed that the minor plaintiff’s parents rented a beach apartment for a month in a four-unit building owned by the defendant.

During the night, as the minor plaintiff slept on the couch, an intruder entered the home and sexually assaulted the girl, according to evidence offered. The plaintiff’s security expert testified that the door locks and exterior lighting of the apartment were inadequate. The plaintiff’s psychologist testified that the plaintiff sustained post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result of the attack for which she received approximately two years treatment.

The defendant’s security expert testified that the apartment building in Readington Shores was located in the lowest crime area in the Tampa Bay area. There had been no similar crimes in the vicinity and the crime was not foreseeable, according to the testimony of the defendant’s security expert. This expert also opined that the lights and locks were adequate for the nature of the neighborhood where the building was located.

The jury found that the defendant was not negligent. The perpetrator of the crime was listed on the verdict form as a Fabre defendant, but the jury did not reach the apportionment issue. A Notice of Appeal has been filed.

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