Security and the law: No Background Check for Guard Becomes Key in Lawsuit
The lower court granted a summary judgment in favor of the security guard company and the plaintiff appealed. The victim had been a house guest of apartment house tenants. In fact, she had been assisted by the rapist earlier on the day of the attack, in his capacity as a security guard.
The security guard company had been hired by the building manager to provide security at the apartments. The plaintiff alleged that when she returned from shopping, the security guard assisted her with her packages and they had a brief conversation. Later that night, the security guard knocked on the apartment door, where he told her he was coming off duty and asked her to join him for a drink, which she declined. Sometime later in the evening, the security guard called again and asked if he could come up to the apartment, saying he had a gift for her. After first declining, the plaintiff agreed to allow the security guard to bring the gift to the apartment door. A few minutes later the security guard knocked on the door and the plaintiff, knowing it was the security guard, opened the door. The security guard then assaulted the plaintiff.
The Appellate Court determined that a genuine issue of fact exists as to whether the security guard companyâ€™s alleged negligent hiring of the guard â€“ without performing a background check which presumably would have revealed his criminal record â€“ was a legal cause, as well as the cause of the plaintiffâ€™s injuries. The court stated that it is a reasonable inference from the record that the plaintiffâ€™s decision to open the door to the security guard was based on the fact that he was a security guard and not just because she believed that he was bringing a gift to her. Had the guard been a stranger, it is questionable as to whether the plaintiff would have permitted him to come up to the apartment.
Therefore, there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the security guard companyâ€™s alleged negligent hiring of the guard was a proximate cause of the plaintiffâ€™s injuries and that the lower court erred when it granted summary judgment.
The court further set aside the summary judgment against the management company, as the liability in the case stems from the allegation that the security guard companyâ€™s negligent hiring of the guard was a proximate cause of the plaintiffâ€™s injury.