Sawgrass Mills Pays for Criminal Assault in its Parking Lot

On Memorial Day in 2002 (5/27/02), Sandra Hernandez, an accountant visiting South Florida from Colombia, was assaulted in the early evening hours in the Yellow Toucan parking lot outside of Marshalls after spending the day shopping at the Sawgrass Mills Mall. As she exited the Mall and searched for her vehicle an assailant came from behind and attempted to snatch her purse. A struggle ensued and the assailant threw Ms. Hernandez to the ground whipping her neck, back and forth, while pulling her long hair in the hopes that she would losen her grip on her purse. When other shoppers approached,the assailant fled in a waiting vehicle, never obtaining the purse from Sandra Hernandez, who suffered multiple injuries and severe emotional distress, during the assault and attempted robbery.

The Law Offices of Diana Santa Maria filed a lawsuit against the Mills Corporation for their failure to provide adequate security, lighting and protection to the Malls' patrons and customers and specifically, to Sandra Hernandez. The evidence in the case revealed that the Sawgrass Mall, which is one the largest malls in the country as well as Florida's largest retail & entertainment center and a major tourist attraction, had non-functioning security cameras, minimal security protection for their parking lots and inadequate lighting, all of which created a dangerous lure for criminal activity in its parking lot. The Mills' Corporation, represented by the law firm of Luks, Santaniello and Perez, paid a $325,00.00 settlement to resolve the case before trial, after a court-ordered non binding arbitration in which the Mills Corporation was found negligent in failing to provide adequate security to its patrons. "This type of situation happens all too frequently and is preventable if shopping malls and department stores take appropriate security measures to protect their patrons from reasonably foreseeable criminal attacks such as this one; the Mills Corporations' whose profits are driven by their patrons, have a duty to implement sufficient security measures to protect against this type of criminal attack." said Santa Maria.