High Court Upholds Crime Victims’ Right to Sue for Damages Caused by Inadequate Premise Security

Just west of Tennessee, down Texas way, an Oklahoma hospital will have to answer for its lack of adequate security on its premises after four years of appealing a crime victim’s lawsuit. Last week, the Oklahoma Supreme Court decided 5-4 that St. John Medical Center in Tulsa would have to defend itself in a lawsuit filed by one of its nurses. This nurse, unnamed because of her status as a sex crime victim, was kidnapped in the hospital’s parking garage.

Parking garages are hotbeds of crime, even in broad daylight, and the kidnapped nurse’s attorney has shown that the hospital was aware of previous violent criminal activity in the parking garage, including assault, battery, kidnapping, and muggings. Despite this knowledge, the hospital did little to improve security on their premises or to deter crime. Their failure to improve security after these assaults, this inadequate security lawsuit alleges, was what allowed for the nurse to be kidnapped and raped when she left her car.

Property owners are responsible for the safety of those invited on their premises, including visitors and employees. Just as the injured has a right to sue for damages for negligence leading to injury if property owners do not warning of a broken stairs or other warn or prevent other foreseeable events that could lead to injury, so, too, does state law, including Tennessee law, allow a victims injured by violent crime, to sue the premises owners if there has been a history of violent crime and the property owners took little or no reasonable measures to prevent future injuries or crime.

Surprisingly, the Oklahoma Supreme Court only narrowed decided that business owners can be held liable for damages if they are aware of recurring criminal activity on their premises and do not take measures to prevent it. Even after all the horrors of violence in the parking garage where the nurse was abducted and raped, the hospital did not increase security. A single security guard watched over 25 monitors, but only one monitor was dedicated to images of the parking garage. The security guard failed to notice the rapist’s van circling the parking garage or that the van’s license plate had been covered with duct tape. And still, the high court nearly decided not to hold liable the allegedly negligent hospital as owners of the dangerous parking garage.

If you were a victim of violent crime and believe you are victim of a Tennessee property owner’s failure to address a history crime on their premises, you may be able to sue for damages. To file a Tennessee inadequate security lawsuit, certain conditions must be met beyond being an assault, robbery or rape victim. Fill out Tennessee personal injury lawyer form to speak with me, Attorney Jim Higgins, Nashville native and personal injury attorney in the State of Tennessee. Or give me a call at (615) 353-0930 for a free consultation.

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