Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

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Child Sexual Abuse

Child sex abuse is a serious and persistent problem in our society.  The frequency and long-term effects on children (and adult survivors) are life altering.  Sexual abuse can take place almost anywhere and be committed by almost anyone.  Victims come in all shapes, ages and sizes. The one common thread is that it is often a child who is sexually abused.

 In sexual abuse cases, the case or claim may be brought by the parent or legal guardian of a child.  The sexual abuse survivor may bring the case on their own behalf when they are adults.

Sexual abuse cases are serious matters which demand highly skilled and sensitive attorneys.  Leighton Law is experienced and successful in representing victims of child sexual abuse.  Managing partner John Leighton has represented child sex abuse survivors for over 30 years and is particularly sensitive to the legal, emotional and psychological issues presented.

We have successfully represented survivors of sexual abuse and assault around the United States and throughout Florida. Mr. Leighton is a charter member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association and sits on their Board of Advisors. In 2007 he was presented the “Advocate of Justice Award” in recognition of his commitment and success in representing victims of crime in civil cases. Mr. Leighton has been the Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America/American Association for Justice’s Inadequate Security Litigation Group since 1996, and has lectured extensively on sexual abuse and sexual assault throughout the country.

John Elliott Leighton is a nationally recognized expert in the field of violent crime and negligent security litigation. Having litigated and tried sexual abuse cases for over 30 years, Mr. Leighton lectures and teaches trial lawyers throughout the country on techniques in handling these cases. He is a published author in this field, having authored numerous articles published in Trial magazine as well as other journals. He is the author of Litigating Premises Security Cases (West Publishing), a two-volume text on how to investigate, handle, litigate and try inadequate premises security and sexual abuse cases. It is the most comprehensive book in the field and widely used among trial lawyers throughout the country.

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Mr. Leighton’s expertise in this field has been recognized by his peers. Besides being selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, he has been elected as a Florida SuperLawyer each year (and in the top 100 Florida SuperLawyers for 7 years), listed as a “Top Lawyer” in the South Florida Legal Guide (2003-2015), and selected for the “Florida Legal Elite Top Lawyers in Florida” by Florida Trend magazine (2006-2009, 2012-2015). He was recently the recipient of the “Mover & Shaker” award from Business Leader magazine and is featured on the cover of Attorney at Law magazine as “Attorney of the Month” (2013).

In addition to litigating and trying violent crime and sex abuse cases throughout Florida, Mr. Leighton has litigated these cases in Wisconsin, Indiana, Georgia, and Texas in state and federal courts. Because he is considered one of the best security and sexual abuse lawyers in the country, Mr. Leighton is often called upon by other lawyers from other states as well as Florida to handle their sexual abuse and negligent security cases.

Mr. Leighton has won numerous verdicts and settlements in cases arising from crime at malls, hotels, gas stations, restaurants, convenience stores schools, shopping centers, criminal perpetrators, church and civil organizations, youth organizations, apartments and businesses.

Recently Mr. Leighton won a $24.3 million verdict in a violent crime case, and he represented the victim in the landmark security case of Jeffery v. Publix. This was the first known instance where recovery was obtained in a negligent security case based on the “rescue doctrine.” 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” (Shepard’s/McGraw-Hill). The book’s author took the trial transcript and, based on Mr. Leighton’s case, turned it into an entire chapter.

Mr. Leighton and the firm have been very active in representing children who have suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of others. Mr. Leighton has represented many children who have been abused while in daycare or at school. In a recent case, Mr. Leighton obtained a $675,000 recovery for a 5 year-old boy who was sexually abused by a 7 year-old boy who was allowed to play unsupervised with the younger child in a day care facility. He has also successfully resolved other cases involving sexual abuse by children upon other children where there was insufficient, inadequate or incompetent supervision.

Teachers and caregivers are frequently the abusers of children.  Leighton Law has been aggressive in pursuing abusers of children by using the civil justice system on behalf of our clients.  The firm recently obtained a $550,000 recovery for a young girl who was sexually abused by a teacher. Mr. Leighton continues to represent these innocent victims against criminal sand institutions who provide access for abusers, rapists and pedophiles to children and other vulnerable victims.

Other child sexual abuse cases have included sexual assaults by church leaders on young children and teens, sexual assaults and abuse on students inside schools, children sexually abused while in the care of airlines, a young teen sexually abused by his after school employer, abuse of a child at a theme park, and childhood sexual assault of a child within a church that was not recognized for almost 30 years.

The Firm and Mr. Leighton continue to litigate, resolve and try child sexual abuse cases throughout Florida and around the country. Mr. Leighton publishes articles and books, and teaches other lawyers about representing victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. There will be no end to child sexual abuse until the abusers are brought to justice.  This has to happen by creating a culture that says secrets are bad, corporations and institutions  cannot cover up abuse, and that all victims are given their day in court.

    Some of Mr. Leighton’s publications in the field of sexual abuse and assault include:

Mr. Leighton’s many lectures and speeches in this field include the following:

  • “Safe or Scary? Negligent Security in Schools, Colleges, and Day Care,” American Association for Justice annual convention, Los Angeles, CA, July 2016
  • “Civil Justice for Victims of Crime in Florida,” National Crime Victim Bar Association/National Center for Victims of Crime, St. Thomas University School of Law, Miami, FL, May 2016.
  • “Rules of the Road for Security and Violent Crime Cases,” American Association for Justice Annual Convention, Montreal, Canada, July 2015
  • Negligent Security: People+Premises+Data, Daily Business Review/Leighton Lecture Series seminar, Miami, FL, March 2015
  • “Like Flies To Honey: Crime Management and the Dangers of ATMs, Convenience Stores and Other High Risk Retail Premises,” American Association for Justice Annual Convention, Baltimore, MD, July 2014.
  • “Sex, Drugs & Violence: Inadequate Premises Security Litigation in Florida,” Daily Business Review/Leighton Lecture Series, November 2013.
  • “Jury Selection in Premises Security Cases,” American Association for Justice Annual Convention, San Francisco, CA, July 2013
  • “Selecting and Investigating Premises Liability Cases,” American Association for Justice Winter Convention, Miami Beach, FL, February 2013.
  • “Why Can`t We Be Friends? Attacking The Defense Security Expert,” American Association for Justice Annual Convention, Chicago, IL, July 2012.
  • “Reducing Institutional Sexual Abuse Through Litigation,” Melvin M. Belli Society Annual Seminar, Chicago, IL, July 2012.
  • “Evaluating, Assessing and Litigating Premises Security Cases,” American Association for Justice, Annual Convention, New York, NY, July 2011.
  • “$24 million verdict: Trial of ATM Shooting Case,” Melvin M. Belli Society Annual Seminar, New York, NY, July 2011.
  • “Terrorism and Civil Actions,” National Crime Victim Bar Association National Conference, Washington, DC, June 2011.
  • “Terrorism as an Inadequate Security Case,” American Association for Justice Annual Convention, Vancouver, Canada, July 2010.
  • “Dealing With The Violent Criminal in Civil Cases, Annual Melvin Belli Seminar, Vancouver, Canada, July 2010.
  • “Sex, Drugs & Violence: Inadequate Premises Security Litigation in Florida,” Daily Business Review Seminar, Miami, Florida, October 2009.
  • “Presenting Tragic Violence at Trial: Closing Argument in Security and Violent Crime Cases,” National Crime Victim Bar Association, 2008 National Conference, Chicago, IL, October 2008.
  • “Sex, Drugs & Violence; What You Need to Know about Violent Crime Cases and Negligent Premises Security Litigation,” Florida Facilities Managers Association, Annual Meeting, Palm Beach, FL, June 2008.
  • “Standing Up for a Fair Jury: Voir Dire in Security Cases,” American Association for Justice, Annual Convention, Chicago, IL, July 2007.
  • “Picking Civil Juries for Crime Victims,” National Crime Victim Bar Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC, June 2007.
  • “Inadequate Security Litigation,” New Jersey Trial Lawyers Association, Boardwalk Seminar, Atlantic City, NJ, April 2007.
  • Keynote Speaker, National Crime Victims` Rights Week, “Victims` Rights Conference,” State Attorney`s Office – Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Miami, FL April 2007.
  • “Insurance Issues in Inadequate Premises Security Cases,” Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Annual Convention, Seattle, WA, July 2006.
  • “Civil Remedies for Criminal Acts,” National Center for Victims of Crime, Victim Advocate Training Program, Fort Lauderdale, FL, January 2006.
  • “Comparing “Fault” – Current Status of Efforts to Include Perpetrators on Verdict Forms; Restatement Approach; Legislation; Case Law; Comparison to Crashworthiness Doctrine,” Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Annual Convention, Toronto, Canada, July 2005.

John Leighton began the Leighton Lecture Series on negligent security litigation with the inaugural “Sex, Drugs & Violence” seminar in 2009. Since then the annual seminar in Miami and Orlando has attracted attendees from throughout Florida and includes lawyers, adjusters, developers, hospitality industry, law enforcement, prosecutors and victim advocates. Recently Mr. Leighton provided sexual assault crime victim advocacy training in Miami for advocates at police departments, prosecutor’s offices and social service agencies.

For a complete list of Mr. Leighton’s speeches and publications, go to our Attorney Profile section.

Click here for examples of our pending and finalized negligent security cases.

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 as each case is unique. By clicking on Verdicts and Settlements you are acknowledging that every case is different and each case must be evaluated on its own merits. The information contained here has not been reviewed or approved by The Florida Bar.

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John Leighton's 2 volume book Litigating Premises Security Cases.

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