Thursday, March 15, 2012

Va Tech Gunman Lawsuit Illustrates Concepts of Negligent Security

Families of two victims of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings will receive $8 million in a wrongful-death lawsuit, a jury ruled Wednesday.
The suit, brought by relatives of slain students Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde, alleged Virginia Tech officials were negligent in taking too long to notify the campus that a gunman was on the loose, WTKR-TV reports.
The Virginia Tech massacre began when two students were shot and killed in a dorm on April 16, 2007. School officials did not alert the campus because they believed the shootings were an isolated incident, Virginia Tech’s attorneys said.
Later, student Seung-Hui Cho gunned down 30 more people, including Peterson and Pryde, before turning the gun on himself. It was the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, according to WTKR.
Virginia Tech’s failure to warn anyone about a gunman on campus led to the killing of Peterson and Pryde, their families’ wrongful-death lawsuit asserted.
But the school’s lawyers argued there was no evidence that a warning would have changed what happened that day. No one could have reasonably foreseen Cho’s massacre, they argued.
In a negligence case, a defendant is generally held liable only for harms that could have been reasonably foreseen by the defendant’s actions, or failure to act. Whether a result was foreseeable is a factor in establishing causation, one of the essential elements of negligence.
Jurors deliberated for more than three hours Wednesday before siding with the victims’ families, MSNBC reports. Each family will receive $4 million from the state of Virginia, because Virginia Tech is a state university.
Attorneys for the state immediately filed a motion to reduce the Virginia Tech lawsuit award, citing a state law that caps jury awards at $100,000, MSNBC reports. Jurors were not instructed about the cap, the attorneys argue.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jorelys Rivera's mother sues apartment complex  |

As a parent and an attorney, this is the type of situation that makes me angry and, I believe, is an example of why we have a civil justice system that can try to compensate victims of this type of negligence that ends with the tragic loss of a child.

Jorelys Rivera's mother sues apartment complex

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Recent Case Involving Potential Negligent Security of a Bar Patron

Family of Marvin Holmes seeks answers through lawsuit
By Brennan DavidColumbia Daily Tribune
Saturday, January 21, 2012
The family of a Columbia deejay who died in August has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the bar where he allegedly was assaulted and the bouncer who they believe was involved.
Marvin Holmes was celebrating his 46th birthday at DC’s Bar and Grill, 904 Business Loop 70 E., when he got into an altercation with bouncer Travis A. Brown in the early morning hours of Aug. 21, Holmes’ family members say. Holmes, who sometimes performed at the bar as DJ Ice, died Aug. 27.
The five-page suit filed Tuesday in Boone County Circuit Court alleges negligence against the establishment and Brown. The bar has since closed. Neither the bar owner named in the suit, Craig Seymour, nor Brown could not be reached for comment.
Columbia police found Holmes unconscious in the doorway of the bar. Investigators later that day reported that Holmes apparently fell against a hard object, knocking him unconscious and resulting in severe blood loss. The family has told a different story, which involved a fight between Holmes and Brown that resulted in Holmes’ fatal injuries.
“I think this was a disagreement that got out of control,” said Mark Kodner, a St. Louis attorney representing Holmes’ 7-year-old daughter, Ashanti R. Holmes; Ashanti Holmes’ mother, Shayla McHenry; and Marvin Holmes’ mother, Juanita Holmes. Brown “didn’t intentionally try to kill him. It was done in the heat of the moment,” Kodner said.
The argument between Holmes and Brown allegedly began because Brown wanted to charge a Holmes family member to enter the bar, Kodner said. The two exchanged words, and Brown eventually placed Holmes in a headlock while “negligently” attempting to escort him from the bar, causing Holmes to fall and hit his head, Kodner said.
The fall caused severe injury to Holmes’ spinal cord, the lawsuit claims.
Lt. Ken Gregory of the Columbia Police Department said yesterday that the incident remains under investigation.
Without resolution in the criminal investigation, Kodner said the civil action is the only way that Holmes’ family can get answers from Brown and the bar. Kodner said he plans to subpoena the defendants.
“We want to find out what happened. Several witnesses say this happened so fast. Some witnesses have given different accounts of what happened,” he said. “There is nothing to force them to answer these questions. We have to subpoena them or otherwise they won’t talk to us.”