My fellow Syracuse personal injury lawyer, Joseph Cote, who besides being a great lawyer, is a really nice guy, recently won a nearly $3.4 million Rochester NY personal injury verdict for a security guard shot in the face during a robbery at a Wilson Farms convenience store in Rochester.
The jury held the chain-convenience store's corporate owner 50% responsible and the robber (who was never caught) 50% liable. How could the store be held liable, even half liable, for an armed robber shooting its security guard? Well, Joe argued that the convenience store should have required its employees to move cash from the store to the bank more often. Instead, Wilson Farms became a favorite piggy bank for armed robbers because they knew there was likely to be a big payday inside. In the past decade, armed robbers targeted the Rochester area Wilson Farms stores a grand total of 126 times, which included six shootings and one death.
Joe's argument reminds me of what Jesse James said when asked why he robbed banks: "Because that's where the money is", he quipped.
The 50% finding probably means the Store will have to pay out only half of the pain-and-suffering portion of the verdict. Under New York CPLR Article 16, subject to certain exceptions, a defendant who is 50% or less at fault has to pay the injured plaintiff only its own proportionate share of the pain and suffering compensation. If the jury had found the store 51% liable, the store would likely have had to pay 100% of the pain and suffering compensation, with a right to sue the robber for his 49% share (good luck!).
Congratulations to Joe Cote on a great win.
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