Margaret Dupree, Charles Dupree Jr. and plaintiff brought action for false arrest and malicious prosecution of Denco security firm and Piggly Wiggly supermarket. The trial court provided damages against the security firm but denied recovery against defendant supermarket upon the jury’s finding that the security firm was an independent contractor. Plaintiff argued that defendant supermarket was responsible for the breach of its non-delegable duty to customers’ safety. The court reversed its decision and rendered judgment against the defendant supermarket.
The court ruled that if a store owner contracted a special agency to ferret out any nuisance by its customers or employees, then he will not be permitted to escape liability of a malicious prosecution or false arrest on the ground that the agency and its employees were independent contractors. The court also affirmed the trial court directed verdict for defendant security firm owner because plaintiff failed to show his relationship with the firm.
It is clear that Piggly Wiggly asked these security guards to work in that place thereby, intentionally exposing its customers to the possible tortuous conduct of the guards. The jury made several findings, none of which were complained of or objected by Piggly Wiggly. Those findings are that Mrs. Dupree did not commit the offense of shoplifting; that she was falsely imprisoned; and that security guards participated in the false imprisonment. At the time Mrs. Dupree was arrested and taken back into the Piggly Wiggly store, the manager, (Michalik) was fully aware of the situation and, in fact, remained in the back storeroom at least half the time Mrs. Dupree was retained there. It is undisputed that Piggly Wiggly did not make any effort to investigate the arrest through its management or any other employee.
Because of the disposition, it is not necessary for us to consider plaintiff’s other points of error. The Jury found that Plaintiff has faced a damage of around $25,650.00. Those damages are here rendered against Piggly Wiggly Shop Rite Foods, Inc. The judgment here is rendered for the Plaintiffs Margaret Dupree and husband Charles Dupree, Jr. in the amount of $25,650.00 with interest from date of judgment and for costs.
Jury Awards $20 Million to Rape Victim Who Sued Property Management Company
A Harris County jury awarded $20 million in damages on Wednesday to a rape victim who sued her property management company for failing to notify residents about previous sexual attacks on the property. The woman lived at The Promenade Cullen Park when a masked man who resided in the west Houston complex raped and sodomized her for more than 10 hours in February 2009.
According to the lawsuit, the property management company officials knew about a case in the woman’s neighbourhood a few weeks before her ordeal in which a man tried to rape that resident. The officials failed to notify other tenants about a sexual predator and that was his fault. The woman who filed suit, lived alone and renewed her lease shortly after the earlier incident, said Troy Chandler, a lawyer on the Williams Kherkher team who represented the woman. “The notice failed to mention that a burglary occurred, that the assailant waited inside, that a tenant was attacked and that there had been an attempted rape.” Troy added. The lawsuit, filed in June 2010, sought damages for negligence and deceptive trade practices. The woman continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
After a weeklong trial, the court awarded $7 million for physical pain and mental anguish, $5 million for future mental anguish and $8 million for conduct forbidden by the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The verdict came one day before three-year anniversary of the attack. “She wanted the apartment complex to change their notification policy,” Chandler said. “Her goal is to make sure that another person does not suffer and she wanted a jury to acknowledge what property management company officials did was wrong.” Chandler said he expects the defendant to appeal the verdict. Neither lawyers representing the property management company nor a spokesperson for the Thompson Coe law firm could be reached for comment on that day. After being notified about a possible serial rapist, police arrested Darryl Anthony Martin shortly after the woman’s attacker fled and she called 911. Martin, now 24, pleaded guilty to sexual assault in 2010 and was sentenced to 20 years in state prison.
Clark v. Skaggs Companies, Inc.
Johnny Rogers was a security guard for plaintiff and he was on duty on December 18, 1984. Two witnesses testified on behalf of plaintiff, both of whom were also familiar with the security policies of Skaggs stores and Advance Security. Both witnesses stated that Rogers had been instructed on security policies to detain possible shoplifters and if the suspect is cooperative, follow through with whatever is necessary.
Furthermore, both witnesses stated that it was against policy for security personnel to make sexual advances to a suspected shoplifter and that if such incident should occur and be brought to the attention of the management, the employment would be terminated. Plaintiff does not deny that Rogers put his hands upon Clark’s breasts and squeezed. Plaintiff stated that as per the evidence, there was nothing inside her breast pockets and Rogers acted for his own gratification and was in no way acting to benefit his employer’s business. Plaintiff concludes that there was no evidence that Rogers acted within the scope and course of his employment and that the evidence and legitimate inferences were of a kind that reasonable minds could not differ on this.
Clark testified that during the time she was with the security guard, she felt that she could not leave. Clark stated that after that incident, she no longer feels free to browse through stores, she feels paranoid when shopping, and she no longer picks up little objects to examine them while shopping. Clark testified that she did not see a doctor about her problems, but she spoke with her father who is a doctor. The jury awarded Clark $7,500 for the false imprisonment and $20,000 for other problems.
Inadequate Security Results In Gang Shooting
Elmer Meraz went to a bar with his cousin and other friends. While at the bar, Meraz’s cousin started arguing with another patron, Santiago Lopez. Lopez was a known troublemaker and regular customer at the bar and had been regularly ejected from the bar for gang activity and violence. Meraz tried to intervene in the verbal altercation between his cousin and Lopez. A security officer at the bar told all three patrons to leave. When Meraz walked outside of the bar, Lopez pulled out a gun and shot him six times which injured Meraz badly.
Meraz sued the bar for negligence and premises liability, arguing the bar breached its duty to protect him from Lopez’s violent acts, and failed to maintain safe premises for the bar’s patrons. Meraz asserted the bar authorities regularly allowed gang activity, drug sales and violent assaults on the premises. Furthermore, Meraz claimed that even though Lopez was regularly involved in fights at the bar, he was allowed to come back inside the bar without any security search. Meraz argued the defendant knew or should have known that Lopez posed a risk to other patrons. Meraz filed a motion for partial summary judgment against the bar on the issue of the bar’s liability for negligence.
The federal district court granted Meraz’s motion for partial summary judgment. The court found that the defendant was liable for the injuries caused to Meraz because it happened on its property. The federal district court concluded that several similar incidents of gang activity, violence and assault had occurred at the bar. The federal district court also found that several prior altercations and violent incidents involved Lopez; therefore, the assault on Meraz was foreseeable and because the bar had failed to protect Meraz from the known dangers on their premises, the district court found the bar was liable for the harms caused by known dangers, which in this case were the violent actions of Lopez.
The implication here is that the bar was liable because it did not meet its standard of security and care. Negligence was shown when a security guard allowed an individual to enter bar even after he knew that the individual had a history of violent incidents toward others. The bar failed to meet its standard of care when it allowed gang activities to continue on its premises and failed to establish policies and procedures to prevent it. Given the totality of the circumstances, the court concluded the harm suffered by the plaintiff was reasonable.