Articles Posted in Abuse and Assaults

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In January of 2007, officers of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office set up an undercover drug sting by posing as drug dealers near the home of 80 year old Isaac Singletary. Mr. Singletary, carrying a gun, confronted what he thought were actual drug dealers and demanded that they get off of his property. Gunfire erupted and Mr. Singletary was killed.

Mr. Singletary’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Jacksonville alleging that the officers acted improperly and violated his civil rights. The attorneys for the City of Jacksonville have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The Court has yet to rule on the motion.

Civil rights lawsuits are complicated cases which are usually filed in federal court. In order to prevail, the plaintiff will typically have to prove the victim’s loss was the result of a policy or custom of a city or county. Often, the city will defend such cases on the grounds that the action taken was the result of a split second decision by an officer and not the result of any policy or custom.

If a simple mistake is made by an officer and the mistake is not attributable to a policy or custom then the case is likely a simple negligence case and not a civil rights case. The downside to this is that the City of Jacksonville, like all Florida municipalities, has a statutory limitation of liability of $100,000.00 per claimant and $200,000.00 per incident for negligence claims. Federal civil rights cases have no such limit.
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A Jacksonville couple has sued a Jacksonville apartment complex owner for wrongful death after their son was shot on the premises. This death was the seventh in seven months at the apartment complex. The couple alleges that the owner of the apartment complex failed to appropriately respond to the violence, and, among other things, should have increased lighting, warned the residents and placed a gate at the entry.

This type of case is typically referred to as a premises liability case. Premises liability cases require that the injured person prove that the owner of the property was negligent for failing to protect people from known dangers.

Assaults and shootings present an unfortunately common danger at Jacksonville apartment complexes and businesses. It is incumbent upon the owners to respond appropriately in the event of violence. A common scenario is presented when a sexual assault ocurrs. While the owner of the complex may not want the bad publicity that can follow, it is extremely important to warn the other residents so that they can increase their vigilance.

Premises liability cases are not easy. A premises owner is not liable simply because an incident happened on the owner’s property. Often, the plaintiff’s attorney must do an extensive investigation to uncover the history of prior assaults at the location. It is important to hire an attorney that has the experience and resources to thoroughly prosecute such a case.
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A group of men, including some from Jacksonville, FL who allege they were abused or injured as boys living in a reform school in Marianna, Florida, have sued various agencies of the State of Florida. The abuse and assaults are alleged to have occurred as early as the 1950’s, and only recently came to light.

The men allege that they were taken to a structure on the campus known as the “white house” where they were subjected to severe beatings and personal injury. Dozens of men claim that they were sexually assaulted as well. Some claim that they witnessed boys being killed. Dozens of graves have been found at the site.

This suit raises numerous issues, including the statute of limitations. In Florida, the typical statute of limitations for such claims is four years. For the families of any boys killed at the site, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is typically two years. Sometimes exceptions are made for injuries or abuse to children. Since decades have passed since the alleged incidents are to have occurred, the plaintiffs’ attorneys will earn their keep if they can keep these suits from being dismissed.

The plaintiffs’ cases will likely have a large psychological harm component, which unlike broken bones, can be difficult to demonstrate to a jury. Psychological injuries often become intertwined with other possibly unrelated difficulties that people will face throughout their lifetimes. The plaintiffs’ attorneys’ experience in presenting such intangible but serious injuries will be extremely important to the case as well.
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