Maine Grocery Store Sued for Premises Liability After Violent Attack

In the criminal justice system, only those with actual involvement in the crime will be held to account. But in the civil justice system, victims of violent criminal attacks may seek compensation from third parties in some circumstances – even if the third party had no part in the facilitation of the crime. A Maine negligent security lawyer can help bring this type of claim.

Primarily, this occurs in situations in which a property owner or venue had a duty of care to protect customers or occupants, but it failed to do so. Even though a property owner isn’t necessarily aware that a particular crime is about to be carried out, some offenses may be foreseeable, based on:

  • A pattern of prior similar occurrences on or near that property;
  • The ease with which certain crimes (i.e., breaking and entering) could be carried out absent basic security features (i.e., locks, security guards, cameras, etc.).

In these cases, plaintiffs may allege negligent security, negligent supervision, or negligent hiring (i.e., not background checking workers).

Not every criminal attack will have grounds on which to assert a civil claim, but victims and families who are left reeling should explore their legal options with an experienced wrongful death attorney. Beyond the monetary compensation that can be awarded (which can help victims obtain necessary care and assist with pain and suffering), this type of litigation also compels businesses and property owners to take seriously the safety of those on site, ultimately driving down the risk.

Recently, the widower of a woman attacked and killed by another woman in the freezer section of a supermarket in Portland in 2015 is suing the grocery store where the attack occurred. The plaintiff alleges the grocery store chain must do more to protect customers from violent attacks.

The victim, 59, died after a woman, who followed her in from the parking lot, approached her in the store and slit her throat. The 33-year-old assailant was soon afterward arrested and later convicted, and she is now serving a life sentence in prison.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed by the decedent’s husband alleges the attacker stalked the victim from the time she was in the parking lot, through the store and all the way to the freezer aisle. Furthermore, the complaint alleges, store security did not adequately monitor the situation as it unfolded or do enough to intervene to protect its customers. While existing security measures, such as monitored cameras, were in place, store personnel failed to use them.

In working to establish a pattern, the plaintiff’s attorney cited at least 28 incidents of violence that have occurred at this particular chain of grocery stores throughout New England over the last 25 years. These include incidents like employee abduction and another case involving carjacking and murder. The evidence, the plaintiff’s attorney alleges, shows the grocery store chain knew or should have known about criminal activity in its stores but failed to implement adequate security to address these issues.

The question of how much security is “adequate” depends on many factors, including the nature of past prior offenses. In some cases, courts will find that a lack of very basic security features (i.e., working locks on apartment or hotel doors) will be enough to hold a company accountable.

If you are a victim of a Portland accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Husband of Woman Killed in Saco Shaw’s Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit, Aug. 16, 2017, By Judy Harrison, Bangor Daily News

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