A San Bernardino jury has awarded a record verdict of $55,151,509 to a Southern California man in a lawsuit filed against a private security firm.
The Plaintiff alleged in the suit that he lost both legs because the guard working for the security firm failed to protect him from gang members who shot him at an apartment building. The Plaintiff, 24-year-old Antonio Steward, filed his lawsuit against Stratus Security Services.
The negligence lawsuit alleges that in August 2006, the security guard from Status Security Services neither broke up a late-night outdoor drinking party of about ten men associated with the gang, nor told Steward and his two friends who were sitting outside on a nearby apartment stairwell to go inside their homes because the situation might be dangerous.
It was further alleged that the guard left the area and went to his car, listened to the radio and then drove away.
Steward, who was 17-years-old at the time, was shot nine times without justification. Due to the lack of blood flowing to his legs, gangrene set in. Steward has undergone 56 surgeries and had more than 40 percent of his stomach removed. Both of his legs had to be amputated. Steward will need constant care for the rest of his life and will battle an array of infections. The quality of the care Steward receives will determine how long he will live.
The guard said he was reluctant to do much more than that. “If you’d been there, you wouldn’t have wanted to be there,” court records said the man testified in an early hearing in the case. “It was about 10 of them and one of me…it was just a situation I didn’t want to be in.” One of the men from the group shot Steward shortly after the guard went to his car to write a daily activity report.
Steward lives with his parents in an apartment unequipped for his disabilities. He volunteers at Loma Linda University Medical Center where he counsels new amputees. His prosthetic legs broke in a fall a few years ago, and no longer fit. They have not been replaceable since an insurance change with his 21st birthday.
A gang member, Roosevelt Turner, is currently serving two consecutive life-with-possibility-of-parole prison sentences stemming from the shooting.
If the security guard felt threatened being alone facing the ten men at the outdoor party, maybe he should have called the police for back up. It is very unfortunate that the victim lost his legs just because the security guard on duty took it upon himself to determine that his job did not need to be done that night.
What do you think about this tragic story? Do you think that the security guard should be punished for the impending injuries because of his negligence?
Feel free to comment on this blog post. For more information, contact a Gacovino Lake attorney at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).