South Florida Woman’s Family Claims Negligent Security Led to Her Murder
Gregg Hollander | September 27, 2016 | Premise Liability
Negligent security played an integral role in the death of a 59-year-old woman killed in her gated community home in Davie two years ago, her family alleges. The Sun-Sentinel reports the family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the property management company as well as the security firm hired to patrol the gated complex of WestRidge.
Officials say the victim, Jill Halliburton Su, was stabbed to death during a home invasion robbery in September 2014. After she was killed, her son found her partially clothed body, hands and feet bound, in her own bathtub. Nearly two weeks after the horrific crime, a 22-year-old man was arrested and charged with murder. He managed to escape from a courtroom in Broward County this past July and was on the run for six full days before he was caught. He faces the death penalty if he’s convicted, though he insists he is innocent – and actually broke out of jail in order to gather evidence to prove it.
Aside from the pending criminal case, how can anyone other than the person who carried out the crime be held responsible for it? In civil litigation, negligent security is an assertion of premises liability negligence that a person or entity owed a duty of care to provide a certain level of security to someone and in failing to do so, caused them to be at risk of harm. It can be made in any place where there was a reasonable expectation of a certain level of security that as not delivered, resulting in injury.
In this case, the lawsuit as filed by decedent’s husband, and seeks in excess of $15,000 in damages (which is an arbitrary figure that allows the claim to be filed in circuit court, rather than small claims). The actual amount the family seeks is likely much higher.
Plaintiff alleges it was the responsibility of the security firm and the property management company to make sure no one was able to get in or out of the gated community except by way of a guarded gate. The community itself was just a mile from the local police department. However, despite the fact that defendants promised security, plaintiffs say there is evidence anyone could walk right into the gate, and that property managers knew or should have known this fact and addressed it. This absence of adequate security, plaintiffs allege, gave decedent’s alleged killer an easy means of entering the neighborhood. Residents had their guard down because they believed there was proper security at the gate. It was for this reason many residents in the neighborhood didn’t lock their doors or take extra security precautions.
The president of the association has responded to the litigation by saying the enter community was grieved by what happened, the fact that there was an ongoing criminal investigation and now a pending civil lawsuit meant he could not comment any further. The security firm answered a request for comment similarly.
Some other examples of other cases that have focused on negligent security include:
- Bouncers at a night club;
- Security at a hospital;
- School resource officers at school;
- Doormen at apartment complexes or hotels.
If you have been injured as a result of negligent security in South Florida, we can help.
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Woman’s family in Resiles murder case sues property manager, claims inadequate security, Sept. 19, 2016, By Rafael Olmeda, Sun Sentinel