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Joint and Several Liability Applied to Property Owners in Parking Lot Assault
Description Florida supreme court held that negligence by retail store owners, by providing inadequate security to protect patrons, resulted in a criminal attack. Property owners are subject to joint and several liability in the negligence action by the crime victim.
Topic Torts
Key Words Joint and Several Liability, Negligence
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts McDonald was shot and injured by an unknown assailant in a Wal-Mart parking lot. He sued Wal-Mart and Merrill Crossings, the owner of the shopping center, for failure to maintain reasonable security. Jury held for McDonald, finding Wal-Mart 75 percent and Merrill 25 percent negligent. Parties appealed on various issues. The issues before the supreme court were if joint and several liability could apply in such a situation and if it was proper for the trial court to exclude the intentional, criminal tortfeasor from the verdict.
Decision The negligence of Wal-Mart and Merrill resulted in the intentional, criminal act by a non-party. Hence, this case is an "action based upon an intentional tort," which, under Florida law, allows the doctrine of joint and several liability to apply. "It would be irrational to allow a party who negligently fails to provide reasonable security measures to reduce its liability because there is an intervening intentional tort, where the intervening intentional tort is exactly what the security measures are supposed to protect against." Further, it was not reversible error for the court to exclude the criminal tortfeasor from the verdict.
Citation Merrill Crossings Assoc. v. McDonald, 1997 WL 746290 (Slip Copy, Sup. Ct., Fla.)
705 So.2d 560 (Sup. Ct., Fla., 1998)

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