WeeBucks newest and largest store is located in Fair Oaks, a generally safe neighborhood. One evening a customer, Mr. Jensen, left the store and entered the elevator of its adjoining two-story parking structure, where he was viciously assaulted and robbed.
This was the first such incident at the Fair Oaks store, which had only been open a couple of months. However, a WeeBucks patron was carjacked in the parking lot of one of its other properties within the past year. Furthermore, Mr. Jensens still at-large assailant is believed to have committed two similar attacks in the area over the preceding months.
WeeBucks had surveillance cameras inside the Fair Oaks store, though none yet in the parking structure or the elevator. It also employed a security guard at this store (as it did at all of its properties). Although his job description focused primarily on the prevention of shoplifting, it did also discuss the need to patrol the parking lots. The guard would do so each time he needed to grab a smoke, which was more often than the store manager cared for.
Mr. Jensen, a 43-year old entrepreneur, has sued WeeBucks for compensatory and punitive damages. The appellate courts in your jurisdiction have made it clear that the trial judge must first determine whether a property owner owes a duty to take affirmative steps to protect its patrons against third-party criminal acts, by examining whether crimes such as the one at issue were foreseeable. If so, the jury will be instructed to determine whether the defendant breached its duty by not taking "all reasonable precautions" to protect its patrons from such a risk.
Based on your review of the evidence and potential arguments, your impressions of the fact and expert witnesses, the seriousness and permanency of Mr. Jensens injuries, WeeBucks' reputation in the community, your knowledge of the judges track record on taking cases away from the jury, your experience with juries and damage awards in this locale, and your opinion of opposing counsel, you have made the following assessments:
- It is "extremely doubtful" that the judge will find no duty was owed and dismiss the case.
- A jury is "pretty likely" to find that WeeBucks did not do enough to protect its patrons, though a defense verdict is "by no means out of the question."
- Assuming liability, a jury will "probably" award between $2 and $3.5 million in economic damages (for past and future in-home care, medicals, and lost wages), and between $0.5 and $2 million in non-economic damages (for pain and suffering, etc.).
- Finally, although "not that likely," there is a "definite possibility" that punitive damages will also be awarded. If they are, your "best guess" is $1.5 million, though they "might easily" be as low as $1 million or as high as $2.5 million.
What would be a reasonable settlement value?
Write down your "gut feel" answer first and then we will analyze this case with one of our Litigation Risk Analysis Software Models.
Selecting The Right Model
Litigation Risk Analysis Software Models come with a front-end "tree selector" program that asks you a few questions about your claim and then automatically displays the tree that best fits your problem. We will use this "tree-selector" program to get the right tree for Jensen's claim against WeeBucks. In addition, as you go through the questions on the next five screens, you should make note of all the possible combinations of issues that our models can analyze.
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