The adequacy of security on a particular location is determined primarily based upon the foreseeability of crime at that location. In the event that criminal activity has never occurred before, and is not foreseeable, the level of protective measures, obviously, does not have to be as high as at locations that have a history of crime. Nevertheless, particularly when a statute designed to protect patrons or invitees is involved, a business does not necessarily get “one free bite at the apple,” and punitive damages have even been authorized under circumstances in which a landlord has taken a callous disregard for the safety of its invitees, even in the circumstance of no prior crime on that property.
In order to prove inadequate security, it usually will be incumbent upon a claimant to present testimony from a security expert who will opine that, in his opinion, the level of security was inadequate at that location, and below the standard of care in the industry. Very often, the security expert will examine whether or not a security audit or survey has been done on the property, and, if so, whether or not the landowner has followed the recommendations set forth by the survey. The expert will also examine traditional security methods such as adequate lighting, many of which have specific standards set by the IESNA (Illumination Engineering Society of North America) relating to a required foot candle power per specific type of location. The expert will examine whether or not there were video cameras, appropriate shrubbery control, perimeter controls, alarms, lines of sight, signage, and even security guards when appropriate.
In general, the security expert will examine whether appropriate measures were taken to take the property from “disorderly,” which is a recipe for predatory criminal behavior, to “orderly,” which is a well-recognized crime deterrent. Often, the security expert will have the benefit of specific statutes, such as the Florida Business Security Act, § 812.173, Florida Statutes , which identify the type of security measures that should, and in some cases, must be implemented to comply with the statutory purpose of protecting employees and patrons of the location. Thus, the security expert will examine a potpourri of measures to gauge whether or not the security met the standard adequacy of security that a property owner should meet, based upon foreseeability of crime, to protect his patrons.