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Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

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Resort, hotel and theme park security taught by Leighton at national conference starstarstarstarstar

John Leighton addressed the American Association for Justice (AAJ) at their annual convention in Boston in July.  Mr. Leighton spoke on Resort, hotel and theme park security and representing victims of crimes at those locations.  He explained how tourists in particular are vulnerable targets for opportunistic crime.  The convention is the annual meeting of the nation’s trial lawyers and comprises over 20,000 members.  In teaching these attorneys about negligent security, Mr. Leighton went through several examples of how negligent security litigation has served to make travel and tourism much safer, including the use of key cards at hotels (instead of keys), the practice of not announcing room assignments out loud, use of peep holes and deadbolts, closed circuit TV security systems, lighting and crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED).

Some examples of allowing tourists to be targeted included Florida’s now-banned policy of assigning rental cars license plates all beginning with Y or Z, which all but advertised that the driver was a tourist. The cars were further emblazoned with the logos or bumper stickers of the rental car company.  It was an effective form of free advertising but once again served as a neon sign pointing toward vulnerable soft targets.  Mr. Leighton discussed how tourists are much more likely to be targeted in part because they are unfamiliar with the area and are unlikely to return to the venue for prosecution should the perpetrator be apprehended.

Another part of the speech discussed the risk of sexual assault at theme parks.  This is an ongoing problem and was highlighted by a sting operation in the Central Florida area where 35 current or former Disney employees were arrested while attempting to meet up with an underage online partner.  Theme parks and resorts are also locations where criminals engage in “drink spiking.”  This is where an unsuspecting victim’s drink is spiked with a drug which renders them incapable of resisting and adds an amnesic effect such that they often cannot even remember what happened.

Leighton chairs the Inadequate Security Litigation Group of AAJ and is the author of the 2 volume book, Litigating Premises Security Cases.