Heymann & Fletcher

New Jersey premises liability case result of excessive force?

Premises liability cases can cover a variety of different types of accidents or situations. A recent case involving a young man and the local police has made New Jersey headlines and has many asking if the situation was handled properly. What started as a routine arrest has now turned into a potential lawsuit involving issues of premises liability and even police brutality.

The incident began when the 20-year-old young man was forced to leave a casino for being underage. Surveillance footage shows him surrounded by five police officers outside the casino. It appears he emptied his pockets and then continued on his way. After that, however, things took a turn for the worse when the man crossed the street and apparently continued to yell. At that point, four of the officers used force and took the man to the ground in order to handcuff him.

As the man was on his stomach, a K-9 officer arrived on scene and released the K-9 on the man, allowing the dog to bite the back of his neck. The man sustained a severe injury as a result of the dog bite and what was described as a fist to his head at the same time. According to reports, the man needed over 200 stitches as a result of the animal attack. Further investigation indicated that the K-9 officer has been involved in several lawsuits for the use of excessive force, some of which are still ongoing.

A New Jersey lawsuit has resulted, and both the local police department and Atlantic City have been named as defendants. The premises liability issues arise from the fact the man that was arrested was seemingly lawfully upon the property of the city at the time of the incident about which he has complained. While it remains to be seen what the result of the legal claims will be, the theory of a claim based upon premises liability is that a property owner (in this case Atlantic City) can be held liable for certain torts committed on its property. To prevail, the plaintiff will need to convince a civil court that the force used upon him by the police officers and dog was unreasonable and, as such, was the proximate cause of the injuries suffered.

Source: abclocal.go.com, Atlantic City police beating caught on camera leads to lawsuit, No author, Oct. 8, 2013

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