A four-year civil lawsuit against The Mall at Short Hills was settled for $12 million earlier this week. The lawsuit itself was filed by the wife of a man “killed during a carjacking at The Mall at Short Hills.” Back in September the wife, Jamie Schare Friedland, made a “formal offer to settle the lawsuit,” and it seems the mall finally agreed, but what happened?
The lawsuit itself was filed by the wife of a man “killed during a carjacking at The Mall at Short Hills.” Back in September the wife, Jamie Schare Friedland, made a “formal offer to settle the lawsuit,” and it seems the mall finally agreed, but what happened?
It all began on December 15, 2013, when Jamie’s husband, Dustin, was fatally shot at The Mall at Short Hills. Shortly after in March 2014, Jamie filed a “civil complaint against Taubman Centers Inc., the Michigan-based company that owns the upscale shopping mall in Millburn where her husband was shot.” In her lawsuit, she alleged “negligent security practices at the mall contributed to her husband’s death at the hands of four carjackers during the theft of a Range Rover from the mall’s parking deck.”
Additionally, her attorney, Bruce Nagel, “cited four previous carjackings of female shoppers at the mall as evidence its owners should have been aware of the threat faced by shoppers.” However, shortly after the lawsuit was filed, the mall and its attorney’s pushed back against the allegation and argued that Dustin’s “killing was a random act of violence that could not have been prevented by the mall.” So why did the mall’s owners agree to the settlement?
Well, part of the reason was timing. According to a state rule, “civil defendants have either 10 days before a trial or 90 days, whichever is sooner, after being served with an offer of judgment to accept it.” If the owners didn’t accept the offer and “lose at trial, they could face a significant increase in jury-awarded damages under the same rule.” When commenting on the case, Lawrence H. Kleiner, a Bergen County-based attorney tasked with handling personal injury cases said Jamie’s offer “should be considered a demand with teeth.” He added that if the mall owners don’t accept the offer and lose at trial, “they’re looking at tremendous fees.” How high could those fees get? According to Kleiner:
“If a jury awarded Friedland more than 120 percent of the settlement on offer, she would then be entitled to 8-percent interest from the date of the offer, as well as attorneys’ fees accrued since the offer.”
What about the shooter? Who was he and what happened to him? Hanif Thompson was his name, and recently he was handed a 30-year sentence “after pleading guilty to felony murder and a weapons charge.” Two others were charged in connection with the carjacking and were sentenced to 20-years in prison.
Attorneys for Friedland and the mall have not responded to requests for comment on the offer of judgment in the civil case.