Fatal Shooting in Cinema Parking Lot Triggers Lawsuit

(courtesy of the Georgia Trial Reporter)

Case Caption
:  Carlos Pacheco, Personal Representative for the Estate of Jesus Pacheco v. Regal 24 Cinema and Perfections Security
Case Number: 08A99832-S1
Court:  DeKalb County State Court
Judge: Alvin T. Wong
Verdict: Defense verdict for both defendants.
Date of Verdict: 2/17/2010
Attorneys
Plaintiff
:  Don C. Keenan, Atlanta 
Defendant
: W. Winston Briggs, Atlanta
Matthew G. Moffett, Atlanta

Facts:
A parking lot altercation at defendant theater resulted in shots being fired and the death of one of those involved. Plaintiff estate sought damages claiming inadequate security, which defendants denied. The jury returned a verdict in favor of defendants.

Plaintiff’s decedent, Jesus Pacheco, was attending a movie at Defendant Regal 24 Cinema along with five of his brothers and sisters on a September evening in 2006. Jesus and his siblings were in the parking lot of the movie theater when a fight broke out and gunshots were fired. Jesus was fatally wounded and another of his siblings was injured, but survived. Defendant Perfections Security provided security at the theater.

Plaintiff alleged that the fight commenced in the parking lot and continued for 10 minutes before defendants responded. Plaintiff claimed there was insufficient security at the theater and a delay in calling police. Family members claimed they screamed for help, but there was no response from defendants’ security. Plaintiffs claimed there was sufficient evidence of prior incidents at that location for additional security to be warranted. Claims for decedent’s sister’s injuries were filed under a separate action.

Defendants contended that its security officers reacted within 30 seconds after someone yelled inside the theater there was a fight. Defendants maintained that adequate security was on hand, police were timely called, and no amount of security officers would have stopped the incident. Defendants also maintained that more than 1,000,000 people attend the theaters annually and reports of past incidents were not relevant to this event. Defendant claimed that its security was appropriate, including two off-duty police officers carrying weapons and one off-duty investigator with a baton. All security officers were carrying communications devices (walkie-talkies) at the time of the fight.

Plaintiff Profile: Plaintiff’s decedent was a 21 year old single male who worked as a laborer.

Alleged Injury: Death from gunshot wounds. Decedent was survived by his parents and siblings.

Jury Deliberations: 3.5 hours

Insurance Carrier: Liberty Mutual (primary); Fireman’s Fund (excess)

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