Beverly Jean Whitehead Vs. USA-One is a security negligence case filed in an American court of law in the year 1988 (Jennings, 2006). Beverly Whitehead was a resident at an apartment named Sharpsburg Manor in the same year. In June 1988, a person broke into her residence and sexually assaulted her. Later in the evening, a suspect by the name Alfred Zene was apprehended. He later pleaded guilty to the burglary charges. Earlier, Zene had broken into the house of Carla Prewett and Blair Marques. The three women were living in the same apartment. The criminal was charged for sexually assaulting the two women in April and May (Jennings, 2006).
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Later, the three women sued the USA-One Company for negligence. The security company had been offered a contract to provide security services in Sharpsburg Manor apartments and Real Development complexes. As such, the security firm was required to maintain security at the apartment gates and carry out patrols around the premises.
Through the case, the victims accused the security firm of failing to protect them from being attacked by the intruders. In the case, the three women alleged that the company had played a role in their miseries by neglecting part of its duties (Tanenhaus, 2008). During the trial, the judges came up with their conclusions based on an earlier similar case. The case referred to was Gardner Vs. Vinson Guard Service. In this case, the security company had been responsible for the damage of residents’ vehicles during a shootout. The case indicated that Vinson Guard Service had been hired to provide security to the cars in a parking lot.
On a fateful day, the company had been informed in advance that there were chances of occurrence of violence within the premises (Jennings, 2006). The company neglected the warnings and never reinforced its security personnel and measures. As such, on a fateful day, there was only one security guard instead of the required three security guards. The underlying charges were that the company was hired to protect vehicles and people around the parking lot primarily, and the company failed to do so. Therefore, the company was held liable by the client for failing to provide enough security forces to stop the shooting in the parking lot.
Just as in the above case, In Whitehead Vs. USA-One Inc case the victims accused the security firm of failing to protect them against intruders. In the contract between the Regal Development Company and USA-One Inc, the security guards were required to guard the apartment’s gates and carry out patrols around the apartments (Jennings, 2006). Based on this, it is apparent that the contract required the security company to protect the properties within the apartments and not the residents in the apartment. The differences between the two cases are that they occurred at different historical times.
The whitehead’s lawyers could not prove the existence of a master-slave relationship in the case because the security firm’s duties had clearly separated the concept. In addition, there was a vivid limitation of protection by the USA-One Security Company. During the case proceedings, it was found that the security company executed other tasks, which were not stated in the contract. The tasks included answering phone calls and alerting maintenance personnel. However, these tasks were not in any way related to the protection of employees.
Based on the above information, it is apparent that the Whitehead case lacked merit in the courts of law. Like in the Gardner Vs. Vinson Guard Service case, the USA-One victims’ lawyers could not demonstrate any merit in the case in question. The judges could not prove other roles of the USA-One Inc personnel apart from being gate attendants and patrol administrators (Jennings, 2006).
The courts found out that USA-One Inc was not in any way responsible for the protection of Rime and Real Development’s residence. The other fact, which was in favor of USA-One Inc, was that there were lower crimes within the vicinity they guarded. Compared with other residential areas, the area was considered safe and secure by the law enforcers compared to other residential areas. The only incriminating evidence against the USA-One was that it increased their daily patrols after the occurrence of the crime (Nemeth, 2005). However, the judges stated that there was no appropriate evidence to demonstrate that USA-One Inc had breached their security contract. Therefore, the case was dropped.
Later on, the victims’ lawyers made an appeal against the court’s ruling. During the appeal case, the Whitehead’s lawyers referred to Gardner Vs. Vinson Guard Service case as their precedence. Vinson Guard had entered into an oral contract with their client to protect the vehicles within the client’s facility. In addition, the Vinson Guard was responsible for protecting employees alighting or boarding their vehicles. However, on 18 November 1983, Hazel Gardner was attacked at Van Photo while reporting for work at 5 am. She arrived had traveled to the premises despite being warned that a burglary had been witnessed in the vicinity some few minutes earlier.
The thug had tried to break into a cigarette machine before being spotted by a security guard on duty. When the thief realized that the security guard had noticed him, he ran for safety. Gardner was attacked 15 minutes later in her office. Convinced that the thug had escaped from the scene, Gardner believed that there was no need to inform the police. Gardner failed to notice that there was a second thief hiding in her office. As she was carrying on with her daily chores, the thug struck her bore escaping.
Later, Gardener sued Vinson Guard Company for security negligence. Just like in the other case, the court found out that the Vinson Guard Service was not mandated to protect employees inside the Van Photo offices. During the court proceedings, Hazel argued that the security guards had convinced her that the vicinity was secure (Bankston, 2009). In addition, her lawyers argued that the security firm was responsible for protecting the employees within the premise.
However, the above evidences did not convince the adjudicator that the security company was guilty of negligence. Like in the other case, the judge’s ruling was in favor of the Vinson Guard service, and therefore Gardner’s case was dropped. Unlike the Whitehead Vs. USA-ONE case, it should be noted that this case was adjudicated without reference to a previous similar case. As such, the judges arrived at their conclusions based on the presented facts.
The upper court judges adjudicated Whitehead’s appeal case. The judges confirmed the lower court’s rulings. They asserted that USA-One Inc had not breached its security contract. Although the crime acts waged against Whitehead and the other women were inhuman and devastating, I believe that the ruling was fair considering the scenario. Based on the case, it is apparent that USA-One was not mandated to protect the people living in the apartments. As such, their duties had been clearly stated in the contract. Although the company was hired to offer security services, it should be noted that their job contract limited the extent of their roles within the apartment. In addition, I agree with the judge’s ruling because the defense failed to provide enough evidence to vindicate the security company.
With respect to Gardner Vs. Vinson Guard Service case, I believe that the judgment was also fair. Just like in the other case, there was no written contract between the security firm and the apartment’s owners on the roles of the security guards. Gardner’s company should have noted that in a court of law, the absence of voluntary consent might be used as a defense to the contract enforceability. Given that judges based their ruling on facts, it was difficult for the court to vindicate the security firm without appropriate evidence on whether they breached their contract. The two cases are similar in the manner in which the events occurred.
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Equally, in the two cases, security firms are accused of negligence. Another similarity between the two cases is that the defense team lacks enough evidence to vindicate the two security firms. From the two cases, we can learn that it is very crucial for the security company and the client to have a well-defined written contract. The contract should clearly state the roles and of the security company. Through this, the security firms will be held liable in the event of a crime. Equally, the contract will enable the client or the third party to hold the security company responsible for any damage.
Bankston, C. L. (2009). Great events from history. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press. Web.
Jennings, M. (2006). Business ethics: case studies and selected readings (5th ed.). Mason, Ohio: Thomson/South-Western. Web.
Nemeth, C. P. (2005). Private security and the law (3rd ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier Butterworth Heinemann. Web.
Tanenhaus, D. S. (2008). Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court of the United States. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. Web.