Property Owners Can Be Sued for Allowing Violence in San Francisco
Each property owner has a legal duty to address safety concerns on their premises, and one of these concerns is the threat of violence. If criminal activities and violence become common on the properties, then owners must take decisive, effective action. If they fail to do this, they may be held accountable for any resulting injuries. Two new lawsuits in San Francisco show that this is a very real possibility. Both cases involve violent acts that arguably could have been prevented by a more efficient security plan.
When a plaintiff sues a property owner for allowing a violent act, this is known as a “negligent security lawsuit.” It falls under the general category of premise liability, and there are several requirements that plaintiffs should keep in mind if they wish to pursue compensation. To learn more about these requirements, consider getting in touch with Mary Alexander & Associates. With help from our qualified personal injury attorneys in San Francisco, you can determine the most appropriate course of action.
$27 Million Settlement May Be the “Largest Bullying Payout in American History”
In September of 2019, an eighth-grade boy was attending his first high school classes. While walking on school property, he was sucker-punched from behind. Falling forward, the teen struck his head against a pillar before losing consciousness. As he lay on the ground, his attackers continued to beat him with their fists, causing fatal injuries. Although he was eventually transported to a nearby hospital for treatment, the teen died from his brain injuries nine days after the attack. This incident took place at Landmark Middle High School, which is in the Moreno Valley Unified School District. What makes this attack even more disturbing is the fact that it was recorded and posted on the internet.
The family of the deceased boy decided to sue the school district, alleging that the attack should have been prevented by a more comprehensive anti-bullying policy. The school district eventually decided to settle the lawsuit for a staggering $27 million, which some observers say is the largest bullying settlement in United States history.
The fact that the family received this high settlement is a reflection of the boy’s death and the extremely disturbing nature of the incident. The plaintiffs argued that the victim had previously complained to the school staff about bullying issues. In other words, the staff were aware of the danger faced by the boy and yet did not take adequate action to prevent his death.
In addition, the school district may have felt obliged to part with such a large sum due to the relatively light sentences given to the attackers. The boys, who were just 14 years old at the time of the attack, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and assault. They spent less than two months in juvenile detention and were ordered to undergo anger management therapy upon their release.
Unfortunately, bullying has proven to be a major issue in schools across the San Francisco area. Children have the potential to cause serious harm to one another in a number of different ways. Unrelenting verbal or psychological bullying may push children to suicide. Alternatively, direct violence can result in serious injuries or even death. The responsibility to prevent this bullying falls squarely on teachers, principals, and other staff members. If these acts are allowed to continue, parents will completely lose confidence in the ability of school districts to keep their children safe.
Westfield Mall Sued for Serious Violence
On September 14, 2023, it was reported that Westfield Mall in San Francisco had been sued for allowing unrestricted violence to occur throughout its premises. The lawsuit alleges that during a 12-month period, there were more than 100 serious security incidents in the mall. These included death threats against employees, often with visitors brandishing firearms and other deadly weapons. The lawsuit was filed by one of the tenants at the mall, who allegedly faced these incidents on a regular basis while trying to run their business. This tenant is none other than the popular apparel company American Eagle.
The Westfield Mall went into receivership this summer, with the operator turning back ownership to the lender and neglecting to make further payments on its outstanding mortgage balance of $558 million. This came after what has been described as a “retail exodus,” with some of the biggest tenants leaving the mall for greener pastures. One of the two owners of the mall released a statement complaining of the violence:
“The closure of Nordstrom underscores the deteriorating situation in downtown San Francisco. A growing number of retailers and businesses are leaving the area due to the unsafe conditions for customers, retailers, and employees, coupled with the fact that these significant issues are preventing an economic recovery of the area.”
As foot traffic slowed, the mall allegedly stopped trying to prevent violence, causing the area to become what plaintiffs describe as a “lightning rod” for crime. Multiple customers have complained that when they called or texted the security provider, they were met with radio silence roughly 50% of the time. There is a real possibility that negligent security lawsuits may be filed against the mall’s owners in the future.
Where Can I Find an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in San Francisco?
If you have been searching for a personal injury attorney in San Francisco, look no further than Mary Alexander & Associates. Over the years, we have helped numerous plaintiffs pursue justice and compensation for their injuries. We know that acts of violence can be particularly traumatic and life-changing. Even when your physical injuries heal, the memories of these criminal acts may never truly vanish. This is why it is imperative to work with a qualified attorney as you pursue compensation for PTSD, emotional distress, depression, anxiety, and other non-economic damages.
Reach out today to book a consultation and begin the legal process. During this first meeting, our qualified personal injury attorneys can listen carefully to your unique situation and recommend the most appropriate course of action. While internet research is an effective first step, it cannot provide this level of personalized guidance.