I received a phone call today from a gentleman, we’ll call him Pete, who was attacked and injured outside of a Publix supermarket by his ex-girlfriend’s current fiancé, who had attacked him some months prior. The attacker was arrested.
While Pete was working with the state attorney to bring criminal charges, he wanted to know if he could bring a civil personal-injury claim against his attacker. The answer is: yes. But our firm would not take the case. Here’s why:
Keep in mind that there are two potential defendants here: the attacker and publix.
Our firm evaluates three elements when deciding to take a case: (a) liability, who was at fault?; (b) damages, how severe are the injuries; and (c) deep pocket, who can pay?
Damages were not an issue (Pete was sufficiently injured).
The attacker would undoubtedly be held liable. The problem here was with element (c). Pete knew that his attacker was a man of modest means and owned insignificant assets. Bringing a claim or law suit against the attacker would, therefore, likely be a waste of time and money.
Publix certainly has enough money to pay on almost any legitimate claim, however, when looking at Publix, the problem would be with element (a). It would be difficult to hold Publix liable/responsible for Pete’s injuries.
Our firm has handled plenty of what we call negligent security premises-liability cases and certainly property owners and managers have an obligation to maintain their property in a safe manner. This includes providing adequate security to ensure a reasonably safe experience for their business invitees. However reasonably safe does not equate to a GUARANTEE of safety from every possible hazard. In this case, the attacker was clearly waiting for Pete. Publix’s responsibility to provide adequate security would not extend to escorting each and every one of their customers safely to their car. It would have been very difficult for Publix to prevent this kind of premeditated attack and therefore, in our personal-injury law firm’s opinion, would not be held liable.
Unfortunately, Pete would be limited to seeking redress from the criminal-justice system, which includes restitution. I will discuss the concept of criminal restitution in tomorrow’s Miami Personal Injury Attorney Blog post.
By: Jason Neufeld, Esq.