PREMISES SECURITY – 10 YEAR OLD TENANT SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY INTRUDER – DEFECTIVE FRONT DOOR LOCKS – DEFENSE VERDICT – SUBSEQUENT SETTLEMENT PURSUANT TO HIGH/LOW AGREEMENT
Jury Verdict: Plaintiff Verdict on Negligence (Negligent Security)
Defense Verdict on Proximate Cause (both by 5 to 1 jury vote)
This case subsequently settled for $95,000 pursuant to a high/low agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, Pltf. was to receive $95,000 in the event of a defense verdict, $175,000 if Deft. City was found to be 1%-50% liable, and $300,000 if Deft. New York City was found to be 51%-100% liable.
- Psychological and emotional residuals–plaintiff had received counseling
- A tooth was knocked out during the attack
Facts & Allegations: This assault took place on May 3, 1992 on 160th Street in South Jamaica Projects in Queens. Pltf., a 10 year-old boy, was returning home after buying a Sunday paper for his mother. He testified that the front door lock to his apartment building was constantly broken, and as he was waiting for the elevator he heard the door open and someone come in. The person got on the elevator with him and assaulted him, then took him to the roof where he raped and sodomized him. Pltf. claimed that Deft. New York City Housing Athority (NYCHA) was negligent for failing to provide adequate security and a functional front door lock.
The perpetrator was caught and convicted and received a sentence of 77 years; however, he was not a party in this action. The court ruled that the jury could apportion liability between Deft. NYCHA and the perpetrator. Although the trial was bifurcated, the jury knew the general nature of the acts but specifics were not revealed.
The jury found that Deft. was negligent, but that negligence was not a substantial factor.
Demonstrative Evidence: photographs of the scene; maintenance records; crime statistics; police reports.