Premises liability is a form of personal injury claim. If a business or an individual fails to take reasonable care in keeping their property safe, someone lawfully on the property who is injured by that negligence can pursue legal compensation. A common example is an apartment building’s loose or damaged steps or stairs that cause someone to fall.
Negligent security is a particular form of this type of liability. A landlord or building owner has the responsibility to provide minimum security for the building and premises and if they are aware of or should be on notice of gaps or holes in their security and somebody gains access to the premises as a result of that gap in security and assaults, rapes or otherwise injures a person, the landlord or building owner may be responsible for the failure to provide adequate security.
Earlier this year, New York artist Janet Leo published an account of her struggle to hold her landlord accountable after a rape that was made possible by negligent building security. A judge found Ms. Leo’s landlord negligent, and her case was eventually settled out of court.
And then there is the alleged sexual assault by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then-head of the International Monetary Fund, who was arrested in New York last month on charges that he sexually assaulted a maid at the Sofitel hotel.
In the past, assaults by guests on staff were often ignored or tolerated by hotel management. Employers might tell the employee to file a Workers Compensation claim. However, Workers Compensation was never intended to address intentional assaults such as on a guest of a hotel by a hotel employee. However, there is a body of case law where employers are held responsible for the acts of an employee when they have a history of assault and the employer continually ignores the issue. This includes cases dealing with negligent hiring, negligent training and negligent supervision. While an assault in an apartment building, co-op or condo presents a unique set of facts and each case is decided on those facts, Pearlman, Apat, Futterman, Sirotkin & Seinfeld, LLP is well versed in handling these types of cases.