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$300,000 verdict in federal court – sexual assault of child inside store (Miami Dade County)

Child sexual abuse is something that affects every community.  It is every parent’s worst nightmare. It is something that continues unless reasonable steps are taken to stop it.

John Elliott Leighton represented a young child who was sexually assaulted inside a big box store while her mother shopped.  The young child had wandered away from her mother and was approached by a man who said he worked for the store (he didn’t).  Then he took the girl to an employee-only area of the store where he had privacy.  There he proceeded to sexually assault this young girl.  Mr. Leighton tried the case before a federal court jury and obtained a $300,000 verdict despite the jury attributing 90% of the fault to the child’s mother. Evidence showed that the mother allowed her young child to walk off alone in the store for half an hour. At the time, the law allowed a jury to apportion fault to a non-party, which in this case reduced the child’s recovery by 90%.  Sun Bank v. KMart, SD Fla. 1995.

The law in Florida was later clarified that the fault of a non-party cannot be used against a victim of a crime, but that came several years after the trial.  In the meantime, it is the hope that this verdict and what was uncovered by Mr. Leighton will change corporate policies at K-Mart, perhaps preventing a similar sexual assault on another child.


Disclaimer: The information about past verdicts and settlements of the firm’s cases are based on the unique facts of each case. These amounts reflect the gross recovery in each case (before attorneys fees, expenses and medical costs are deducted). Although these results were obtained by our firm, they may not indicate the success or value of any other case. By clicking on Verdicts and Settlements you are acknowledging that each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The information contained here has not been reviewed or approved by The Florida Bar.