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U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pa.

The female plaintiff alleged that the defendant, who owned the Philadelphia apartment complex where she resided, voluntarily undertook security measures at the complex and then performed this undertaking in a negligent fashion. As a result, the plaintiff claimed that an intruder entered her second floor window from a fire escape, raped and robbed her.

The defendant argued that it breached no legal duty to the plaintiff and that the plaintiff accepted the apartment in "as is" condition.

The plaintiff testified that in July of ________, when she was 23 years old, she was asleep in the second floor apartment which she rented from the defendant. An intruder entered the plaintiff’s apartment through an unlocked window adjacent to a fire escape, entered the plaintiff’s bedroom, demanded money and jewelry, brutally raped her, threatened to kill her, tried to strangle her, placed a pillow over her face and threatened to call in a friend whom he claimed was waiting nearby. The plaintiff was terrorized for an hour and a half before the assailant fled, according to her testimony.

The plaintiff produced evidence that the defendant was aware of prior break-ins at the complex and installed security bars on the downstairs windows and all upstairs windows adjacent to the fire escape, with the exception of the window in the apartment rented by the plaintiff.

The plaintiff’s security expert testified that the lack of security bars on the plaintiff’s window created an area of vulnerability of which criminals could take advantage. The plaintiff contended that the defendant’s voluntary undertaking to provide security created a duty for him to perform in a non-negligent manner.

The plaintiff’s rape trauma expert testified that the ordeal caused psychological injuries to the plaintiff and that she was displaying classic avoidance symptoms and will require continued psychiatric counseling. The plaintiff testified that she moved back to her parent’s home in Maryland as a result of the rape and that she fears that she has contracted the virus that causes AIDS as a result of the rape.

The plaintiff underwent an initial AIDS test which was negative. She testified that she has had an initial AIDS test which was negative, but had not had a required follow-up test because she is afraid of what the result results might show.

The defendant argued that the plaintiff had signed a lease in which she agreed to accept the apartment in "as is" condition which included the absence of security bars on the windows. The defendant contended that he had no legal obligation to make any alterations to the apartment which was rented by the plaintiff. The defense also argued that the plaintiff should have locked the window before going to sleep, which may have prevented the illegal entry of the criminal.

The jury found the defendant ________% negligent and awarded the plaintiff $________. The case is currently on appeal.

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