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Palm Beach County

The 48-year-old male decedent died after he was punched in the face and knocked to the ground during an altercation in the defendant’s pay parking lot. The plaintiff claimed that the death stemmed from the defendant’s lack of any security at the facility. The defendant maintained that the decedent should not have become involved in an argument involving the theft of a DVD player from another vehicle and that additional security would not have prevented his death.

The incident began in March, ________, when the alleged assailant discovered that a DVD player had been stolen from his friend’s car while it was parked in the defendant’s parking lot at the corner of Clematis and Dixie Streets in the downtown area of West Palm Beach. The police arrived, took a report and left. The alleged assailant then became embroiled in an argument with one of the defendant’s employees involving the theft.

The decedent, an attorney who had exited a downtown bar in the early morning hours, approached the alleged assailant and placed his hand on him in an apparent attempt to mediate the argument and calm down the assailant. However, the plaintiff claimed that the assailant turned his wrath upon the decedent and punched him once in the face. The decedent was knocked to the ground by the punch and the back of his head struck the pavement of the parking lot.

The decedent was taken to the hospital where he remained in an unconscious state on life-support systems for seven days prior to his death from massive cranial bleeding. The plaintiff maintained that the parking lot was located in a high-crime area with many previous violent crimes in the surrounding three-block area.

The parking lot in question had approximately 25 spaces and the attendant left earlier in the evening. There was a light in the parking lot and a sign which advised persons utilizing the lot to deposit money in a box, if the attendant was not present.

The plaintiff’s security expert testified that the theft of the DVD player was foreseeable in light of the lack of security at the defendant’s parking lot. Evidence showed that the thief had broken into the door of the parked SUV and stolen the DVD player while it was unattended.

The plaintiff claimed that the lot should have contained better lighting and a security guard, or at a minimum a full-time attendant, which would have prevented the theft and the subsequent fatal altercation involving the decedent. An investigating police officer testified that the assault upon the decedent would not have taken place, if the car burglary had not taken place.

The decedent had opened his own law office and was practicing mainly real estate and commercial law in at the time of his death. He was divorced with no children and survived by his parents. The plaintiff claimed approximately $________ in medical and funeral expenses, but made no claim for loss of net accumulations to the estate.

The defendant argued that it was not responsible for the decedent’s injury which resulted after the decedent took it upon himself to approach the assailant. The defendant contended that the quick punch could not have been prevented, regardless of the security measures suggested by the plaintiff.

The jury found no negligence on the part of the defendant which was a legal cause of the decedent’s death.

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