Lawsuit Against Landlord for Negligent Security to Prevent Rape

In Ann M. v. Pacific Plaza Shopping Center (1993) the Supreme Court determined that the plaintiff had failed to establish the degree of foreseeability necessary to require the type of security measures requested. The plaintiff, employed by one of the tenants in defendants' commercial shopping center, was raped and robbed at knife point in the store where she worked. (Ann M., supra, 6 Cal. 4th at pp. 670-671.) She sued the landlords for negligence. In deciding that violent criminal assaults were not sufficiently foreseeable to impose a duty on the defendants to provide security guards in common areas, the court noted that there was no evidence that defendants had notice of prior similar incidents occurring on the premises, that evidence of other criminal conduct on the premises was not similar in nature to the violent assault suffered by plaintiff, and that neither evidence of the crime rate in the surrounding neighborhood nor evidence that transients were present on the premises was sufficient to establish a high degree of foreseeability. (Id. at pp. 679-680.) Given its conclusion that the monetary and social burdens of hiring of security guards were neither minimal nor insignificant, the court held that a high degree of foreseeability was required, which could "rarely, if ever, . . . be proven in the absence of prior similar incidents of violent crime on the landowner's premises." (Id. at p. 679.)