Summary Judgment Granted to Security Company Sued for Alleged Breach of Duty of Care That Resulted in Serious Personal Injuries

A motion for summary judgment was brought in a premises liability and negligence case arising out of an altercation between the plaintiff and a third-party. Our client was a security company which provided security guards to a homeless access center in Riverside, California. On the day of the incident, the plaintiff and third party engaged in a physical altercation on the street next to the access center. After the fight, the plaintiff visited the access center but was asked to leave by security. The plaintiff protested but was escorted off the premises. Once off the property, he walked down the sidewalk and encountered again the third party driving a car down the street which attempted to strike the plaintiff. The plaintiff fled on foot back down the street and toward the access center. He entered the parking lot for the access center, but was still followed by the third party who crashed through the gate and drove his vehicle into the plaintiff. The plaintiff suffered significant injuries to his legs, pelvis, and ankle, and the third party was apprehended thereafter by security.

The plaintiff later sued our security company client claiming that their security guards, who were aware of the initial fight with the third party, breached a duty of care owed to the plaintiff by forcing him from the access center premises, because doing so exposed him to the threat posed by the third party. Our client security company moved for summary judgment on the grounds that (1) they had no duty to permit the plaintiff to remain on the premises it monitored or to otherwise protect him from a threat that existed off the premises and (2) that even if security company owed a duty of care, it did not engage in any act or omission that caused the incident.

The court granted summary judgment and found that the security company owed no duty to permit the plaintiff to remain on the premises, even after he told the guards he believed his safety was threatened by a third party off the premises. Specifically, the court pointed to the fact that the security company was retained to monitor and control access to the premises and report any observed illegal or criminal conduct; and that the security company was not retained to ensure public safety or intervene in criminal conduct. Therefore, Plaintiff’s expectation that the guards would harbor him was unreasonable, and they had no obligation to permit him to remain on the premises. The court further determined that nothing the guards did increased the harm to the plaintiff, because the threat posed by the third party was created by the plaintiff’s own conduct and existed regardless of his presence on or off the access center premises.

May 2021