South Carolina Premise Liability Claims Stemming From Crime

Criminal actions that result in injury or death are almost always handled by the criminal justice system.
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However, there are situations in which a crime may give rise to a civil action, particularly if the action resulted in severe pain, suffering, lost wages, disfigurement, high medical bills or loss of life. In some cases, the criminal courts will order restitution paid directly to the victim by the defendant.

But when the criminal act would not or could not have happened but for the negligence of another, a third-party liability lawsuit may be appropriate. Our Greenville premises liability attorneys know that many of these claims center on inadequate security. Possible examples of defendants include owners of nightclubs, casinos, apartment complexes, malls, hotels, universities, restaurants and office buildings.

The recent case of March v. Midwest St. Louis, reviewed by the Missouri Supreme Court, is a good example.

According to court records, the incident that gave rise to the claim was a stabbing that occurred either on or near the property of a gas station/convenience store. Prior to that incident, there were 15 police reports on file of various crimes that had occurred on the property. One of those reports involved employees of the store attempting to sell illegal weapons to undercover FBI informants.

As a result, the owner of the gas station gave his word to city officials that he would hire off-duty police officers to guard the property. However, he failed to actually follow through on this promise.

The victim in this case had been at a bar with his brother, and the two were on their way home when they stopped at the store for some snacks. The victim then crossed the parking lot to use the payphone at the far end to call a friend. It was at this time that the stabbing occurred.

Although he was intoxicated at the time, the victim would later contend that the vicious assault took place by the dumpster on the gas station property. His wounds were so severe he almost died.

However, the location of the attack was a principle point in the trial. The defendant contended the attack occurred in an alley just behind his property. If that was the case, he would not be held liable for the attack.

Police officers gave conflicting accounts of where they gathered and saw evidence at the scene.

At trial, the defendant called an expert crime scene analyst who, based on the collective information of the police statements, photographs and other evidence, testified that it was his opinion the stabbing occurred just off the property.

The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant.

However, the trial court granted a motion for a new trial after the plaintiff alleged the expert crime scene analyst had perjured himself. Specifically, he had falsified his credentials, stating he had been secured as a prosecution witness in the Fort Hood shooting case, when in fact he was secured as a defense witness.

The state supreme court upheld this ruling, and the case will again go before a jury.

Contact our Greenville personal injury lawyers at Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
March v. Midwest St. Louis, LLC, Jan. 14, 2014, Missouri Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:
Suing Multiple Defendants in South Carolina Premise Liability Claim, Jan. 20, 2014, Greenville Premise Liability Lawyer Blog

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