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Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

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$1,510,000 Verdict – Inadequate Security Case: Robbery Shooting (Aventura, FL) starstarstarstarstar

Tim Jeffery was working near the Aventura Mall in North Miami-Dade county when he heard an elderly woman scream.  He watched as a man grabbed her purse and ran into a waiting truck.  He chased the truck on foot and knocked on the darkly-tinted window, demanding a return of the woman’s purse.  Instead of the purse being returned, he was shot by the robber in the chest, nearly causing his death.  Fortunately this heroic man survived and made an excellent recovery.  He was left with some scarring and discomfort in his arm.

John Elliott Leighton represented Tim and his wife, and tried the case to a Miami jury.  He demonstrated at trial that the security on the property and in the parking lot was lacking and there had been prior complaints of crime in the area where this took place. Despite the fact that this was not considered a “high crime” area, this shopping center attracted criminal incidents and the residents were particularly vulnerable.  This is an area populated by a lot of senior citizens.

In fact, one witness called to trial was the president of a nearby condominium association whose sister in law had been mugged in the same area.  He had sent a letter warning the property about the danger and asking whether they were going to wait until someone was killed.  The jury awarded Tim $1,510,000. This is the first known application of the “rescue doctrine” in an inadequate security case in the United States. In a rescue doctrine case, the duty that is owed to the initial victim is transferred to the person who has taken it upon themselves to rescue that person.  So even though Tim Jeffery was not the intended victim, the jury found that it was reasonable for him to come to the rescue of the woman being mugged.  Prior to trial a settlement was obtained from the landlord. Jeffery v. Publix Supermarkets.

Mr. Leighton’s success in this trial was recognized by being the featured case in an entire chapter of the book Persuasive Jury Communication: Case Studies From Successful Trials, Chapter 10: “Persuasion in a Premises Security Case” (Shephards/McGraw Hill, 1995).

Jeffery case articles.pdf

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