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| Wooten Kimbrough Damaso & Dennis, P.A.

The residents of Orlando may be wondering if we are ever going to catch a break. Likely hoping that the new year brings new hope and less violence. Just shy of three months after the tragic shooting that took 49 lives at Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016, another shooting has taken place which claimed the life of a tourist protecting his wife on their honeymoon.

Around 1:40 am on September 8, 2016, a couple had just arrived to their hotel off Sand Lake Road where they planned to continue their honeymoon celebration after driving from Miami to Orlando. Upon reaching the hotel and exiting their vehicle, the wife was approached at gun point; her purse being demanded from her. Coming to his wife’s rescue, the 52-year-old Turkish college professor attempted to fight the man off and was shot multiple times, ultimately causing his death. The man, whose identity is still unknown to law enforcement, was reported by the surviving wife to have fled to a waiting car that which then drove off. Orange County Sheriff officials gave a press release announcing that the man was described as heavy-set with short hair and bushy eyebrows, escaping in a redish or orange vehicle with a black stripe down the side, and the vehicle was believed to be heading east down Sand Lake Road.

In addition to the above mentioned deaths, this year there was another nightclub shooting that took place in February at Glitz Ultra Lounge in the Universal Area which left two dead, and ten injured. Likewise, there was the deadly shooting of a former singer from NBC’s “The Voice” on June 11, 2016 at The Plaza Live in Orlando, the night before the massacre at Pulse Nightclub.

With security and off-duty officers at the scene in three of the four situations just discussed it begs the questions, what could have been done to prevent these tragedies from taking place and who should be held responsible for failure to maintain a safe environment?  In Florida, a business invitee is a person who is invited to enter or remain on land as a member of the public for a purpose for which the land is held open to the public. The owner of the premises owes two duties to its business invitees:

(1) to correct or warn of dangers that the owner knows or should know of by the use of reasonable care, and which the visitor cannot or should not know of by the use of reasonable care; and

(2) to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition, including to guard against foreseeable third-party crimes

Although some would argue that these types of third-party crimes are not something security should expect to see coming, it seems a hard pill to swallow. For instance, after the shooting on September 8th of the Turkish tourist, Captain Angelo Nieves of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office gave a statement that deputies often get calls to this area in reference to vehicle burglaries, followed by the assertion that robberies and other serious crimes in this area are declining. However, this event was the direct result of a robbery right outside of the individuals’ vehicle. Moreover, if these third-party acts are not foreseeable by any means, then why do these establishments feel the need to provide security and off-duty officers at all?

After the Pulse Shooting, Police Chief John Mina told Orlando Sentinel that he has been advocating for clubs to install metal detectors, wand patrons and pat-down partygoers long before this shooting occurred. Additionally, the Orlando Sentinel article reported that Orlando Mayor, Buddy Dyer, considered assembling a task force to examine the impact of nightclubs on public safety. One has to wonder how many lives would have been saved if these efforts were taken seriously and a plan was put to action last year.  One thing is certain, without some type of security advancement, these establishments and law enforcement agencies are vulnerable to law-suits for negligently securing the patrons at their places of business, as evidenced by the pending lawsuit brought against the City of Orlando in response to the actions of the police on the night of the Pulse shooting.


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