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3.9-28  Duty to Protect from Wrongful Conduct of Third Persons

Revised to January 1, 2008

The plaintiff claims that the defendant was negligent in failing to provide adequate security to prevent a third person from committing crimes on the premises that were likely to cause harm to persons such as the plaintiff.

You have already been instructed on the duties owed to an invitee by one who controls the premises.  In this case, if you find that the plaintiff was an invitee and if you find that the defendant was in control of the premises, the defendant owed a duty to take reasonable steps to safeguard the plaintiff on the premises from the criminal acts of third persons provided the plaintiff also proves 1) that the defendant had notice of the risk and 2) that the defendant's conduct placed the plaintiff within the scope of the risk.

Notice
The plaintiff must prove that the defendant actually knew about, or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known about crimes or conduct of the same general nature as that befalling the plaintiff occurring on the premises or in its immediate vicinity.  If you find that the defendant a) knew or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known of such crimes, and b) that such crimes or conduct were of the same general nature as that befalling the plaintiff and c) that such crimes had previously occurred on the premises or the immediate vicinity, then the plaintiff has proved notice to the defendant.  If you find that the plaintiff has failed to prove any one of these elements, you must find in favor of the defendant.  If the plaintiff has proved all of these, then the plaintiff has satisfied the requirement that such notice be proved.

Scope of the Risk
The plaintiff must prove that it was reasonably foreseeable to the defendant that the failure to take steps reasonably necessary to safeguard the plaintiff would subject the plaintiff to the type of harm of which the defendant had notice.  Even if the defendant had notice as I have defined it for you, the plaintiff must still prove that the defendant could reasonably foresee that failure to take action to warn or safeguard the plaintiff would subject the plaintiff to the same general type of harm -- what the law calls placing the plaintiff "within the scope of the risk."

If you find that the defendant could not reasonably foresee that the failure to take reasonable steps to safeguard the plaintiff was likely to subject the plaintiff to the same general type of harm of which the defendant had notice, then the plaintiff has failed to prove that the defendant's conduct placed the plaintiff within the scope of the risk.  If you find that the defendant could reasonably foresee that the failure to take reasonable steps to safeguard the plaintiff would likely subject the plaintiff to the same general type of harm of which the defendant had notice, then the plaintiff has proved that the defendant's conduct placed the plaintiff within the scope of the risk and this element is satisfied.

If the plaintiff has proved the status of an invitee -- that the defendant was in control of the premises, that the defendant had notice of the risk, and that the defendant's conduct placed the plaintiff within the scope of the risk -- the plaintiff has proved the necessary elements of negligence and you must go on to consider proximate cause.

Notes

The court should consider whether, in addition to the "proximate cause" charge, the "superseding cause" charge must be given.  See Proximate Cause - Superseding Cause, Instruction 3.1-8.  See Stewart v. Federated Department Stores, Inc., 234 Conn. 597, 607-608 (1995).
 


 

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