Logan v. Jones Lang Lasalle Americas, Inc., Case No. 18-cv-02278 (APM)

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
Writing for the CourtAmit P. Mehta United States District Court Judge
PartiesTERMIA LOGAN, Plaintiff, v. JONES LANG LASALLE AMERICAS, INC., et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberCase No. 18-cv-02278 (APM)
Decision Date02 May 2019

TERMIA LOGAN, Plaintiff,
v.
JONES LANG LASALLE AMERICAS, INC., et al., Defendants.

Case No. 18-cv-02278 (APM)

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

May 2, 2019


MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I.

On the afternoon of November 28, 2017, Plaintiff Termia Logan was assaulted while on an escalator that connects the Union Station metro stop to ground-level retail stores. Am. Compl., ECF No. 16 [hereinafter Compl.], ¶¶ 20, 21. As Plaintiff walked up the escalator, she encountered a group of teenage boys standing ahead of her on the left side, which is generally understood to be the side used to pass. Id. ¶ 20. Plaintiff asked one of the boys to allow her to pass and, as she walked by, he sucker-punched her in the face once she reached the top of the escalator. Id. ¶ 21. Plaintiff was hit with such force that she lost consciousness and fell to the ground. Id. She remained bleeding on the floor of Union Station for an indeterminate amount of time before a Security Officer arrived on the scene. Id. ¶¶ 22-23. When he arrived, the Security Officer told Plaintiff that there was nothing he could do to assist her, and he instructed her to get up and move out of the way of other pedestrians. Id. ¶ 23. The officer did not offer her assistance or offer to

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call for medical help. Id. ¶ 24. Plaintiff ultimately called for assistance herself. Id. ¶ 25. She was treated at a nearby hospital for her injuries. Id. ¶ 26.

Plaintiff brought this action in August 2018 in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, and in October 2018 Defendant removed to this court. See Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1. Plaintiff asserts claims of (1) negligence and (2) negligent training and supervision against Defendants Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc., a real estate and investment management firm that manages and operates Union Station, and Professional Security Consultants, Inc., the company responsible for security at Union Station. Compl. ¶¶ 4-8, 30-39, 45-51.1 Plaintiff alleges that Defendants breached a duty of reasonable care owed to her in numerous ways, including by "failing to provide adequate security for the users and business invitees of Union Station" and by failing to offer Plaintiff assistance after she was injured. Id. ¶¶ 37, 47.

Both Defendants have moved to dismiss all counts. See Def. Jones Lang LaSalle America's Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 19 [hereinafter JLLA's Mot.]; Def. Professional Security Consultants' Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 24 [hereinafter PSC's Mot.]. Defendant Jones Lang LaSalle also moves to strike certain references to the Security Officer's actions after Plaintiff's assault. JLLA's Mot., JLLA's Mem. in Support of Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 19 [hereinafter JLLA's Mem.], at 14-15. For the reasons stated below, the court grants in part and denies in part both Motions.

II.

The court begins with Plaintiff's negligence claim. Plaintiff alleges Defendants were negligent for their failure to "patrol and ensure a visible presence" and to "take such precautions as were reasonably necessary to protect . . . Plaintiff from physical assaults . . . which were

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reasonably foreseeable." Compl. ¶¶ 31, 43 (cleaned up). To establish negligence under District of Columbia law, a plaintiff must allege: (1) "a duty of care owed by the defendant to the plaintiff," (2) "a breach of that duty by the defendant," and (3) "damage to the interests of the plaintiff, proximately caused by the breach." Sigmund v. Starwood Urban Retail VI, LLC, 617 F.3d 512, 514 (D.C. Cir. 2010) (quoting Dist. of Columbia v. Beretta, U.S.A. Corp., 872 A.2d 633, 642 n.3 (D.C. 2005) (en banc) (internal quotation omitted)). Here, Defendants argue only that they did not owe a duty of care to Plaintiff.

A.

Both Defendants contend that they owed no duty of care because the criminal assault was not foreseeable. JLLA's Mem. at 10-13; PSC's Mot., PSC's Mem. in Support of Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 24-1 [hereinafter PSC's Mem.], at 6-14. "As a general rule, a private person does not have a duty to protect another from a criminal attack by a third person." Kline v. 1500 Mass. Ave. Apartment Corp., 439 F.2d 477, 481 (D.C. Cir. 1970). To impose liability for the criminal actions of others, a plaintiff must make a "more heightened showing of foreseeability than would be required if the act were merely negligent." Bd. of Trs. of Univ. of Dist. of Columbia v. DiSalvo, 974 A.2d 868, 870 (D.C. 2009). "In such a case, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that the criminal act was so foreseeable that a duty arises to guard against it." Sigmund, 617 F.3d at 514 (quoting Beretta, 872 A.2d at 641) (emphasis in original). "The crux of heightened foreseeability is a showing of the defendant's 'increased awareness of the danger of a particular criminal act.'" DiSalvo, 974 A.2d at 872 (citation omitted). "Generic" notice of criminal activity in the area is insufficient. Beretta, 872 A.2d at 642. Rather, the plaintiff must establish "that the facts demonstrating heightened foreseeability show[ ], if not awareness of the precise risk, close

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similarity in nature or temporal and spatial proximity to the crime at issue." DiSalvo, 974 A.2d at 874.

Although a close call, the court finds that Plaintiff has sufficiently pleaded facts that make it plausible that Defendants owed her a duty to guard against the assault that she suffered. Plaintiff alleges that "in the year leading up to [her] violent assault, there had been a series of assaults . . . and other violent incidents in the subway and bus system, including at Union Station . . . which had police searching for small groups of teenagers and young adults whom they believe committed at least eight (8) attacks." Compl. ¶ 16. Further, she asserts that "[i]n the months leading up to the brutal assault on Plaintiff, there had been seven (7) violent crimes and twenty-two (22) thefts within 500 feet of the location where Plaintiff was assaulted." Id. ¶ 17. These alleged facts, even if proven true, might not withstanding a motion for summary judgment, because they lack the kind of "precision"...

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