I read with great interest an article on WFTV.com describing a phenomenon that many apartment complex owners and managers say is impossible. On May 27th, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings officiated a ceremony certifying the Beacon Hill Apartments as Orange County’s first Crime-Free Multi-Housing Complex. The certification is the culmination of a three-phase project that took almost five years to complete. The project included multiple property upgrades such as door peepholes and fencing around the entire complex. Applicant screening became much more rigid. The property manager of Beacon Hill indicated that it took tens of the thousands of dollars to achieve the certification. I say, “Bravo” to the owners and managers of Beacon Hill. When we bring negligent security cases against apartment complexes after our clients have been shot, raped, or otherwise assaulted, the complexes always say that they cannot afford to put increased security measures in place. They always say that they would have to drastically increase rents to make their properties as safe as we would like them to be. Or, they say that the complexes are just located in dangerous neighborhoods, and therefore tenants should expect a certain level of crime. The Beacon Hill experience tells us that these arguments are nonsense. If an apartment complex is seriously committed to providing a safe environment for residents and guests, it can make it happen. It might take some effort, and will almost undoubtedly cost some money. However, these seem like small prices to pay to provide a safe place for our children to grow up, and for our elderly to live out their golden years. Here’s hoping that Beacon Hill remains a Crime Free Complex, and that other apartment complexes in Central Florida (and particularly those with reputations for crime and violence) follow suit. If you have any questions regarding a Florida apartment shooting, rape, or assault, or a claim for negligent security, call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill for a free consultation at...Read More »
If you are involved in the bar, restaurant, nightclub or event business, you might want to sit down before you read this blog post. We frequently get involved in cases working for people who have been injured in bars, or nightclubs, or at special events. The injuries arise from a variety of situations ranging from falls, incidents with glasses or bottles, fights between patrons, fights with bouncers, shootings, and injuries caused by drunk drivers. Unfortunately, these kinds of things sometimes happen when alcohol is involved, and most (but definitely not all) bar or nightclub owners or event producers do the responsible thing and go out and secure commercial liability insurance. Most bar or club owners assume that commercial liability coverage is standard from one industry to the next, and also assume that their agent will assist in securing them insurance that will cover most anything bad that might happen in connection with their business. It is usually not until shortly after reporting a claim that many bar and club owners realize that many — and maybe most — modern bar, nightclub, or special event commercial liability insurance policies are chock full of exceptions and exclusions. For example, many companies attempt to exclude coverage to bars and nightclubs for incidents arising out of alcohol use. How many incidents that happen in a bar that lead to a personal injury claim do you think do not arise out of alcohol use? Business owners are often shocked to learn that they have been paying for insurance that is essentially worth nothing to them. Likewise, many nightclub operators are stunned to realize that their assets are now at risk from a negligence lawsuit because insurance won’t cover a claim. Savvy business owners will stay involved in the insurance procurement process. They will ask lots of questions — particularly about coverage exclusions. A wise bar or club owner would probably insist that alcohol-related incidents, and assaults and battery claims be covered — since these are the most frequent claims that we see in our offices as personal injury lawyers. Nobody injured by negligence in a restaurant, bar, nightclub, or at a special event, wants the business owner to be harmed, but they do expect to be compensated for their damages. If you have any questions regarding liability insurance coverage for a bar, nightclub, or restaurant, or if you have been injured in one, call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at...Read More »
Who Was Responsible For Security In Orlando Nightclub Parking Lot Where 20-year Old Man Shot and Killed?
A 20-year old man was found by law enforcement lying in a pool of blood, dead from a gunshot wound suffered in a shopping plaza in the Pine Hills area of Orlando last weekend. The parking lot belonged to the Mandarin Plaza, a shopping center that features two nightclubs, the Scorpion and Santa Fe Nightclubs. According to the report, law enforcement is concerned that trouble that began inside one of the clubs spilled out into the parking lot. Importantly, it was also noted that this parking lot was the scene of a shooting just last year. What was not reported in the media story is the fact that over the last several years there have been a significant number of shootings and violent acts in various bars and nightclubs within just one mile of where this murder occurred. We know because our firm has been involved in representing at least two of the shooting victims and their families. It seems beyond belief that the people who operate these bars and nightclubs, and/or the property owners who lease these properties to the club operators, don’t realize how dangerous this area truly is. Businesses, and even landlords, can be held liable if their customers are victimized in ways that are foreseeable to the business operators and owners. In this instance, these business owners and property owners either know, or should know, that invitees get shot, stabbed, and otherwise assaulted in this area regularly. As a result, these businesses have a duty to take reasonable measures to keep the area reasonably safe for patrons. This might entail hiring security guards (or more security guards), enhancing lighting, installing video surveillance (or more, better video surveillance). If steps like these are not taken, and people get killed in these foreseeable attacks, businesses can be held liable for negligent security. It will be interesting to see how this story develops. Did one of the nightclubs in this plaza simply dump a bunch of angry, gun-toting, patrons on the sidewalk and hope that things would be okay? Did the shopping plaza have a visible security presence in the parking lot? The family of the dead 20-year deserves answers to these kinds of questions. If you have any questions regarding a potential Orlando negligent security case, call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at...Read More »