This case involves a man who was employed as a manager and night security guard at an apartment complex. This security guard had a history of methamphetamine use and had served time in prison for a conviction of voluntary manslaughter. Several tenants had witnessed the security guard carrying and openly displaying firearms around the apartment complex. One night, one of the tenants was in the process of discarding materials from a recent kitchen renovation. According to witnesses, the security guard approached the tenant and without warning, shot the other man, killing him instantly. The man’s family brought suit against the owner of the apartment complex for negligence in hiring the other man as a security guard. An expert that specialize in security practices and procedures was sought to opine on the case.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Can an apartment owner hire a man with a violent criminal history as a night security guard, and if the guard fatally shoots a resident, can the owner be held liable for negligence?
Expert Witness Response
Because a security guard is entrusted with the duty of ensuring that people are safe, it is usually required that applicants for this job be trustworthy people. The problem is that many people who hire security guards may not thoroughly consider the background of a prospective security guard before hiring them. In most cases, security guard jobs require that a person have a clean criminal record and be able to demonstrate good moral character. An owner of an apartment complex who hires a security guard has a duty to hire someone who does not pose a threat to residents. If the owner hires someone who they know has a violent criminal history and who they know might commit another violent crime, this is negligent hiring. The owner of an apartment complex might also be found guilty of negligent retention if they hire a security guard and fail to fire them even though they have found out that the guard is dangerous and unfit for the position. In this case, the owner of the apartment complex was negligent in their hiring and retention of the guard since the owner knew that the guard had a violent criminal history and failed to adhere to any reasonable standard of care in the hiring and retention of this person as a night security guard. The owner was also negligent because they should not have allowed a convicted felon to carry and brandish loaded weapons during the course and scope of his employment, especially where the employment involved frequent contact with residents.