Criminal activity is always a major risk, especially near shopping malls and plazas. Robberies, sexual assaults and shootings are actually very common. These types of crimes are so senseless and incredibly traumatic for the victims and their families, and unfortunately, there have been several recent mall shooting cases.
NJ Man Killed in Mall Carjacking (Dec. 2013)
Late last year, around the holidays, a young NJ man was killed in a carjacking at a large upscale shopping mall in North New Jersey. He was shot in the head in front of his young wife who was sitting in the front passenger seat. The man sought to protect his wife from the carjackers. Four individuals were arrested several weeks later after an intense investigation. Source: nbcnews.com, 4 Arrested in Carjacking Shooting Death Outside Upscale NJ Mall
This shooting occurred less than 2 months after a gunman walked into another North New Jersey mall and opened fire. No one was hit, and the gunman took his own life.
NC Man Shot in Chest at Shopping Center (Dec. 2013)
Just before Christmas, on December 24, a North Carolina man was shot in the chest outside a store in a Raleigh shopping center. The circumstances of this shooting are not clear. Source: www.wral.com, Man shot at north Raleigh shopping center
Could the Shopping Mall/Centers in These Recent Cases Face Liability?
Robberies Peak During the Holidays
It is a well known fact among law enforcement that crimes such as theft, robbery, etc., peak during the holiday season, for obvious reasons. In a shopping mall or shopping center assault/shooting case, liability of the mall owner depends on what the owner knew and when.
In order for a mall assault/shooting liability case to be successful, there must be evidence that the defendant either knew or should have known about the risk of criminal activity and failed to take appropriate action. In either of these recent mall shooting cases, the malls may be liable if there is sufficient evidence of violent crimes on and/or near the premises.
It is important to note that in many mall injury cases, parties other than the mall owner may be liable, such as a property management company and/or a security management company. During the holidays, especially when theft and robbery type crimes peak, a mall may be liable for failing to provide adequate security.
The Design of the Parking Garage in the NJ Mall Shooting Case
According to a news report at www.nj.com, emergency responders were unable to access the victim in the December mall shooting because the clearance in the parking deck was too short. The EMS vehicle simply couldn’t make it up the ramp to where the victim lay dying. Therefore, emergency responders had to park the vehicle and wheel a stretcher to the victim. Source: www. nj.com, Short Hills mall carjacking: Millburn police say medical aid arrived minutes after shooting
Legal Analysis – If the Ambulance Had Reached the Victim Sooner, Would He Have Survived?
Depending on the type of injury and how long the victim survived, his life may have been saved in a matter of minutes. It is speculative at this point, without knowing the details of the injury. However, parking garages should be designed to accommodate emergency response vehicles, such as ambulances and fire trucks. It is certainly possible that had the ambulance made it to the victim earlier, he would have survived. Of course, a medical trauma expert would need to analyze the injuries and the timeline to draw that conclusion.