Posecai v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
752 So.2d 762 (La. 1999)
- Posecai was headed to her car in a Wal-Mart parking lot when she was robbed. She sued Wal-Mart for negligence in failing to provide security guards for the parking lot.
- Posecai lost $19k of jewelry.
- The Trial Court found for Posecai and awarded $30k. Wal-Mart appealed.
- The Trial Court noted that the area near the parking lot was a high crime area, and so Wal-Mart should have known that there might be robberies in their parking lot.
- The Appellate Court reversed.
- The Appellate Court found that the key point of the case was whether Wal-Mart owed Posecai a duty to protect. This hinged on whether it was foreseeable that she might be robbed. There are four approaches to foreseeability:
- Specific harm rule: No duty is owed unless the landowner is aware of specific imminent harm about to befall the plaintiff.
- Prior similar incidents rule: Foreseeability is established by evidence of previous similar instances.
- Totality of the circumstances test: Start with the prior similar incidents rule, but add in additional factors and relevant factual information, to possibly establish foreseeability despite a lack of prior similar instances.
- Balancing test: Balance the foreseeability of harm and the gravity of harm against the burden of imposing a duty to protect.
- The Court found the balancing test was the right test to use for foreseeability.
- In this case, there had only been 3 attacks in the Wal-Mart parking lot in the previous 6 years, so it would be unfair to ask Wal-Mart to provide security because the burden would outweigh the benefits.