The Law Offices of John Phebus

Negligent Security Can Lead to Violent Criminal Acts

The notorious Arizona inmate attack on a prison teacher was in the news again recently. More than two and a half years ago, an Arizona Department of Corrections inmate violently assaulted a teacher within a medium-security prison. The assailant, Jacob Harvey, was serving a 30-year sentence as a violent sex offender. Left alone with the teacher in a prison classroom, he choked her, stabbed her with a pen, beat her head into the floor, and raped her.

Enforcing legal responsibility for this vicious attack may be finally drawing to a close for the victim of this heinous crime. Last month, a federal judge recommended that the perpetrator be ordered to pay $10 million in compensatory and punitive damages for the attack. Harvey will most likely never have the funds to actually pay these monetary damages. But at least the civil portion of the legal system is seeking additional justice for this crime.

On the criminal side, Harvey was sentenced to life in prison for this sexual assault. Circumstances surrounding this case indicate that the state may have been at fault as well, due to inadequate security and faulty safety protocols.

Negligent Security

Late last year, the state settled a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Corrections for the attack and sexual assault of the teacher. The victim alleged gross negligence, a failure to provide a safe environment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The state denied fault and admitted no wrongdoing, but settled the case for a reported $3 million, $1 million short of the amount the victim sued for.

Due to premises liability, some crime victims are able to seek monetary compensation from parties other than their attacker. In this case, it was the state and the Department of Corrections where the victim worked, and where the attack occurred. But property owners and managers of restaurants, shopping malls, apartment complexes, motels, universities, and other businesses owe a duty to the people on their premises. This includes keeping the area safe and secure.

Though these individuals and companies are not directly responsible for criminal acts committed on their property, they may be financially liable for the victim's losses if they have been negligent. Some contributing factors that demonstrate this negligence are knowledge of high-crime in the area, a showing that they didn't take necessary precautions to prevent this potential crime, and a failure to exercise reasonable care. In addition to monetary damages, negligent parties can be made to make changes that will help prevent these crimes from reoccurring on their property, thus protecting others.

If you have been the victim of a crime where negligent security contributed to the assault, you may be able to seek damages under a premises liability claim. Speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer to safeguard your rights. Schedule a free initial consultation today.

Sources: http://kdminer.com/news/2016/aug/10/inmate-ordered-pay-victim-millions/, http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/investigations/2016/01/04/state-pays-3-million-female-teacher-raped-arizona-prison/78260908/

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