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Punitive Damages Claim Allowed for Shooting Victim's Widow

July 10, 2014 | Posted In Personal Injury/Negligence

A state judge will allow a punitive damages claim to go through on behalf of the widow of a man shot to death in a carjacking at the mall, personal injury lawyers in New Jersey report. The lawsuit is aimed at the mall itself, and names the mall security company as well, for failing to offer proper security in the building’s parking lots. The widow, who witnessed the death of her husband, asserted her claims under the Wrongful Death and Survivorship Acts, and has cited emotional trauma as a result of the shooting.

Last December, carjackers stole Dustin and Jamie Friedland’s Range Rover SUV while the couple was in the parking lot of the Mall at Short Hills. Dustin, 30, was shot and killed in the altercation. Now his wife, Jamie, is claiming that the mall’s owner, Short Hills Associates, the operator, Taubman Centers of Bloomfield Hills in Michigan, and the security company, Universal Protection Service of Santa Ana, California, are all to blame for their reduced security measures and the unsafe environment that contributed to her husband’s death. 

The mall is located in Essex County, where there are, according to Friedland’s lawsuit, an “alarmingly high rate of carjackings” each year. Statistics from the area indicate that at least 475 took place in 2013, up from the reported 277 in 2011 and 271 in 2010. In comparison, New York City reported only 159 carjackings in 2013. Friedland and her New Jersey personal injury lawyer have claimed that the mall owners made an intentional choice to cut costs in security measures, even though they knew that the county, and the mall especially, is a prime target for car thieves. The damages lawsuit points to three prior carjackings and robberies that took place in the mall’s parking lots, two of which involved firearms. 

Additionally, Friedland claims that the mall’s upscale stores, such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom, attract drivers with expensive vehicles that are particularly targeted by carjackers. The Mall at Short Hills was named in the U.S. News & World Report as one of the country’s top ten most profitable shopping centers. The shooting took place shortly before Christmas, on December 15th, during the mall’s busiest shopping season, when the owners should have taken extra precautions to protect the increased number of patrons. According to the lawsuit, the mall has stopped hiring off-duty police officers to serve as security personnel, in an effort to save money. 

Mrs. Friedland has also filed a punitive damages claim against the Millburn-Short Hills Volunteer First Aid squad, because the squad took too long to respond to the 911 call. According to the suit, the emergency response vehicle was too tall to fit under the parking deck’s low ceiling, which added significant time to life-saving efforts for Mr. Friedland after the shooting. 

The personal injury attorneys at New Jersey law firm Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, represent clients like Mrs. Friedland, who have lost a loved one due to someone else’s carelessness or negligence. If you have been injured, or have lost a loved one, in an incident that could have been prevented with proper security measures, contact an HCK lawyer today. 


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