Sunday, March 24, 2013

Seibert v. Vic Regnier Builders, Inc. case brief

Seibert v. Vic Regnier Builders, Inc. case brief
253 Kan. 540, 856 P.2d 1332 (1993)
Further help with understanding the Law of Torts

SYNOPSIS: Plaintiff shooting victim appealed a decision from the Johnson District Court (Kansas), which granted summary judgment for defendant shopping center owner. Plaintiff sought damages from defendant after she was attacked by an unknown assailant in defendant's parking lot. The trial court used the "prior similar incidents" test for foreseeability.

OVERVIEW: Plaintiff shooting victim, who was attacked in a parking lot by an unknown assailant, filed suit against defendant shopping center owner on the basis of negligence in not providing security for the area. The trial court, using the "prior similar incidents" rule of foreseeability, entered summary judgment for defendant.

On appeal, the court reversed and remanded for reconsideration under the totality of the circumstances test.

-The two rules were different methods for determining foreseeability in deciding whether or not there was a duty owed by a premises owner to a customer injured by the criminal conduct of a third party. -No evidence of prior crimes in the underground parking area, where the crime occurred, was offered. There was sketchy evidence of crimes in above-ground parking areas.
-The liability sought to be imposed was predicated upon the frequency and severity of prior attacks against different patrons by presumably different attackers in different areas of the lot, plus the totality of the circumstances, including allegedly poor lighting and a secluded location, making the attack foreseeable to defendant, who then had a duty to take appropriate security action.

A possessor of land who holds it open to the public for entry for business purposes is subject to liability to members of the public while they are upon the land for such a purpose, for physical harm caused by the accidental, negligent, or intentionally harmful acts of third persons or animals, and by failure of the possessor to exercise reasonable care to do the following:
(a) discover that such acts are being done or are likely to be done, or
(b) give a warning adequate to enable the visitors to avoid the harm, or otherwise to protect them against it.

OUTCOME: Summary judgment for defendant shopping center owner was reversed and the case was remanded. The trial court erred in using the "prior similar incidents" test for foreseeability in determining whether or not defendant owed a duty to plaintiff shooting victim, who was injured by the criminal conduct of a third party. The proper standard was the "totality of the circumstances" rule.

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