A security guard lawsuit lawyer investigates claims made by injury victims. You can sue a security guard for harm caused by an overly aggressive guard. These cases can result in significant money settlements for a person injured due to this unlawful conduct.
Retail establishments, bars, night clubs, stadiums, hospitals, and other similar spaces and venues often hire security guards to protect guests or customers, as well as to prevent crime on the premises.
Some business owners, like malls and apartment complexes, even hire security guards to patrol entrances and exits, or parking lots, to keep the property and guests safe. And, many neighborhoods hire security patrols to prevent crime in the area.
While these guards provide a sense of safety and comfort, there are situations when they are the ones that cause harm and even death.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries caused by a security guard, you may be eligible to file a civil lawsuit. These cases demand financial compensation for your damages.
In security guard lawsuits, there may be multiple parties that are liable for the injuries, including the security company and the business owner. Our experienced injury attorneys will investigate your case to hold all possible parties accountable. We can help you get justice.
- Types of Lawsuits Against Security Guards
- Off-Duty Police as Security Guards
- Degrees of Permissible Force That Can be Used
- When Can You Sue a Security Guard?
- Legal Theories Against Security Guards
- Suing the Business Owner
- Can I Sue the Security Company or Police Department?
- Successful Verdicts and Settlements Around the Country
Types of Lawsuits Against Security Guards
There are different types of civil lawsuits that you can file against a security guard, ranging from cases involving negligence to those involving intentional acts. To be clear, an individual harmed by a security guard cannot file a criminal lawsuit against a security guard. Rather, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit related to the guard’s wrongful act.
Some of the different types of cases that a person can file include:
- Negligence lawsuit: You could be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against a security guard that acted in a careless or negligent manner, and that negligence or carelessness resulted in your injury.
When a retail store or a bar or club hires a security guard, that person is tasked with ensuring the safety of other people on the premises. The failure to prevent harm from occurring or allowing it to occur can be the basis for a civil lawsuit.
And certainly, the guard should never physically harm anyone. Excessive physical force should never be used by a private security guard in any situation. Rather, the police should be called to address any situation that may involve the use of force.
Also, if the security fails to protect a guest against an assault by others it can give rise to a claim. An example would be if the guard forces a patron outside of a bar knowing that a group outside in the parking lot is waiting to fight this would be negligent. Rather, the guard should call police to the scene to ensure the guest can safely leave the property.
- Security guard assault and battery lawsuit: You may be more familiar with assault, or assault and battery, as charges brought under a state’s criminal law statutes. However, there are also civil cases brought under this legal theory.
In essence, it is an assault and battery if the security guard physically harms a person by grabbing, wrestling, or any actions to subdue a person. There have been instances when a guard uses an illegal chokehold maneuver on a person that results in death caused by positional asphyxia. The guard can be charged criminally and also sued by the victim’s family under the wrongful death laws.
- False imprisonment or false arrest: Under the law, a person may be liable for false imprisonment “when he commits an act of restraint on another person which confines that person in a bounded area.” To win a false imprisonment claim, you typically need to prove the security guard acted willfully with the intent to confine you to a bounded area, and that the security guard succeeded in causing your confinement.
- Wrongful death: The above theories of liability may also be applicable in a wrongful death lawsuit if the actions of the security guard result in the death of a patron, guest, or customer. A family member or personal representative of the estate, depending upon the state, will need to file a wrongful death lawsuit against a security guard, security company, or a business or entity that employed the security guard.
- Sexual Assault: Reported incidents of sexual assault and rape are on the rise against security guards. Victims trust these people for their safety and then are betrayed when they are the perpetrators of the crime. A sex assault lawsuit can be filed by the victim against the guard and other liable parties.
Off-Duty Police as Security Guards
Many police officers and other law enforcement officials work as security guards, or in similar positions, when they are not on duty.
They are permitted to “moonlight” while not on police duty. There may be situations in which the police department can also be sued when an officer is working off duty as a security guard, even though not acting under the color of law.
When courts determine whether or not an off-duty police officer who is a security guard is acting in his or her capacity as a law enforcement officer, courts will typically look at a few different factors. A Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals case, United States v. Cintron (2012), is instructive.
To determine whether an off-duty police officer working as a security guard is in fact a state actor for Fourth Amendment purposes, a court might consider:
- Nature and circumstances of the officer’s conduct;
- Relationship of that officer’s conduct to his or her official duties;
- Whether the officer purposes to act in an official capacity in searching or detaining a person;
- Whether the government (i.e., the police department) knew of or acquiesced to the officer’s conduct; and/or
- Whether the officer performing the search (or other act potentially in violation of the Fourth Amendment) intended to assist law enforcement efforts or to further his own ends
Generally speaking, if any of the following are true of the off-duty police officer working as a security guard, that person may be considered as a state actor in performing actions as a security guard:
- Wears a police or law enforcement uniform;
- Wears his or her badge;
- Identifies himself or herself as a police officer; and/or
- Formally arrests a guest or customer at the establishment.
Degrees of Permissible Force That Can be Used
Determining the amount of force that results in a security guard being liable for damages can be difficult. What is the degree of permissible force that can be used?
In general, a security guard may be liable for damages if that person uses a degree of force to restrain a customer or guest, or to remove a customer or guest from the premises, that is more force than is necessary to reasonably remove or restrain that person.
To be clear, the security guard’s force cannot exceed the amount of force that is reasonably necessary for that person to perform his or her job.
When Can You Sue a Security Guard?
Depending upon the facts of your case, you can sue one or more of the following parties in a security guard lawsuit:
- Security guard (in their individual capacity);
- Establishment that hired the security guard, such as an apartment complex, retail store or a bar;
- Security company that employs the security guard in that capacity; and/or
- County or city of police department where the security guard is employed as a law enforcement official.
Legal Theories Against Security Guards
An individual security guard may be liable for harm according to a variety of theories of liability depending upon the specific facts of the case. Potential theories of liability include but are not limited to:
- Intentional tort, including assault and battery, false arrest, and intentional infliction of emotional distress; and/or
- Excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, including deadly force in wrongful death cases.
Suing the Business Owner
When a business employs a security guard who causes injury to another, the owner of may be liable under the legal theory of vicarious liability.
The vicarious liability doctrine holds an employer can be responsible for the actions of its employees if an act occurs within the scope of the employment or is a reasonably foreseeable outcome of the employment.
In addition, an employer may be liable according to a theory of negligence if it failed to conduct an appropriate background check that would have uncovered a criminal record or similar history that would suggest the security guard was not an appropriate person to employ for this position.
Can I Sue the Security Company or Police Department?
An employer of the security guard—either the security company hiring out security guards or the police department where the security guard works—may also be liable based on the theory of vicarious liability.
The guard must be acting within the course and scope of employment for the security firm to be held accountable. And again, the failure to properly screen persons before employing them in a security position can give rise to a civil claim.
Successful Verdicts and Settlements Around the Country
Examples of security guard lawsuits, verdicts, and settlements in security guard claims include the following:
- 2020: Wrongful death lawsuit filed for the 2019 death of a 39-year-old man in Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, CA, after a security guard kneeled on his neck for four minutes, according to an ABC 10 news report. According to that report, the lawsuit named the city of Sacramento, three security guards, and the security guard company Allied Universal Security Professionals.
- 2020: Wrongful death lawsuit filed for the 2019 death of a 29-year-old man who was fatally shot by a security guard near a bar in Chicago, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.
- 2021: Married couple filed a lawsuit against a security guard and the club that hired him after the security guard intentionally pushed the husband down the stairs, according to an article in the Ocala StarBanner. As that report indicates, the push from the security guard resulted in a severe leg injury that required treatment in an emergency department, “numerous metal staples” in the leg, and missed workdays.
Contact a Lawyer to Sue A Security Guard
To find out if you are eligible to file a security guard lawsuit, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys today.
The Buckfire Law Firm can help you win the maximum settlement for your case. Since 1969, we have fought and won substantial compensation for our clients.
Best of all, we charge no legal fees unless you receive a settlement. And, we pay all of the case costs and expenses. It costs you nothing to start your case. Call us now!
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