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Special Relationship

Usually a person does not have any duty to affirmatively protect another person from a criminal act by third person unless a special relationship exist. Accordingly when a special relationship exist that individual may have an affirmative duty to protect another from a particular risk. The duty that must be abided to is to exercise reasonable care to protect an individual from foreseeable risk.

So the next question to be asked is what is risk are foreseeable. Most courts have adopted the prior similar incidents test. Under this test, foreseeability will be imposed when there is evidence of previous similar crimes in the general vicinity. The rationale behind this is the individual is placed on notice of risk due to the history of similar criminal acts. Important to this determination is the frequency of the crimes that have occurred and how recent these crimes have occurred from the date in question.

In the L.A.C. v. Ward Parkway Shopping Center Co, where the plaintiff was raped in the shopping mall whereby bringing a cause of action against the owner. The defendants contended that the prior crimes committed were dissimilar to the act of rape thereby the incidents involving verbal and physical altercations and robbery could did not make the rape foreseeable. The court held that “foreseeability does not require identical crimes in identical locations” and that these types of acts would place a “reasonable and prudent people on notice that precautions should be taken.”

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