Civil Liability for Sexual Assault on Corporate Premises $4 millionAugust 12, 2015
Civil Liability for Sexual Assault
On Tuesday, August 11, 2015 a jury held a business responsible for its obligation to protect members of the public whom they solicit onto their property. In the case of Wahlstrom v. JPA 1 Management Co. and JPA Management Co., the jury found that the business owner was liable for the “foreseeable criminal acts on their premises” when a homeless person sexually assaulted an individual using the parking garage.
The defendant, JPA 1 Management Co. and JPA Management Co. owned and managed the Radisson Hotel parking garage on Stuart Street in Boston, Massachusetts. The facts of the case established, according to the jury verdict, that the plaintiff was raped and sexually assaulted by a homeless man who, only 12 days earlier, sexually assaulted another victim. The defendant argued that hotel security apparently increased its security following the first assault. According to the trial, however, these efforts were insufficient to address the known risk of assault and personal injury because, in this instance, the security guards were stationed in the hotel lobby which was too far to hear the ongoing screams of the plaintiff during what was reported as a twenty-five minute assault.
The companies, JPA 1 Management and JPA Management Co., argued that they did what the law requires to protect customers in the parking garage. The plaintiff asserted that the defendants who knew of the prior assaults failed to act reasonably to protect her from harm–harm that it knew might occur given its knowledge of past events to keep the public safe.
The verdict, $4,000,000 ($6,600,000 with interest), based on civil liability for sexual assault arising from premises liability is amongst the largest in recent history for this type of claim.
Source: Boston Globe, August 12, 2015