Who can imagine anything more nightmarish than having a family member or loved one killed, not by some unknown rogue assailant, but by the very people hired to protect the public? Many businesses that welcome customers hire private security companies to protect their property and customers from theft or attack. Although the vast majority of private security guards provide excellent protection and ensure an extra layer of safety to the public, situations can sometimes turn deadly when danger arises or guards are not being adequately trained and supervised. These situations are commonly referred to as inadequate or negligent security.
A night of holiday partying and merriment recently turned deadly at the O’Cielo Mexican Bar & Grill in Memphis, Tennessee, when shots rang out at the restaurant on December 14, 2016. News reports revealed that party attendees were shooting toward the bar when a private security guard, David Alexander, returned fire and hit two victims who were not the initial shooters. One of the victims, a 43-year-old man, died at the scene, and the other victim was critically injured. The security guard has since been arrested and charged with reckless homicide, aggravated assault, and acting as a guard without a license. The criminal case is currently pending before the Criminal Court of Shelby County, Tennessee.
When sudden catastrophic events arise, few people, amidst all of the grief and heartache, consider the full breadth of legal options for justice – justice that may extend beyond the criminal court realm. In civil court, loved ones of a deceased victim may have claims against the shooter or company that hired him under theories of agency, negligent hiring, or negligent training. Although no amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one killed so tragically, many times the individual shooter does not possess sufficient assets to satisfy a wrongful death verdict in court. Thus, it is important to conduct a thorough investigation into the conduct of the business owner and/or private security company to gauge whether their conduct led to the loved one’s death.
A similar shopping center safety case recently occurred in Iowa. The family of Andrea Farrington pursued civil claims against the Coral Ridge Mall, Universal Protection Service, General Growth Properties, and Alexander Kozak, after Kozak, a private security guard for the mall, shot Farrington in the back in the middle of the crowded mall on June 12, 2015, killing her. Animosity felt by Kozak toward Farrington likely stemmed from an interpersonal disagreement, as it has been reported that the married security guard killed Farrington on the same day that she broke off their text-messaging relationship.
The negligent security lawsuit filed by the deceased victim’s family alleged that she had reported Kozak’s ongoing harassment and physical threats to his employer, Universal Protection Service, but that the employer failed to take adequate corrective action. The lawsuit accused Kozak of shooting and killing Farrington, claimed that Coral Ridge Mall and General Growth Properties, which managed the mall, failed to provide reasonable care and security to Farrington, and also alleged that Universal Protection Service was negligent in hiring, training, and supervising Kozak. The lawsuit settled for an undisclosed amount in or around November 2016.
If the wrongful actions of a security guard have caused severe, irreparable harm or death to you or a loved one, consider consulting with an experienced negligent security or office building safety attorney to discuss the full breadth of your legal options. Again, although no amount of money can heal or bring back a loved one, other options are available when criminal charges do not suffice for justice. Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz has represented surviving loved ones in Tennessee wrongful death cases for more than 25 years. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-LAW-4004.