Security company wants lawsuit tossed
Last Modified: February 19. 2013 2:52PM
WILKES-BARRE – A local security company has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit that alleges the firm was negligent in how it handled an incident involving a minor traffic accident that led to a man and his stepson getting shot.
The lawsuit, filed by Dennis Cangiarella of Albrightsville, seeks to hold Century Security Services Inc. of Wilkes-Barre responsible for injuries he and his stepson, Jonathan Crawford, suffered after a man opened fire on their car after an altercation over the accident.
Cangiarella and Crawford were shot by Master Wendell Clark on Dec. 31, 2004, after they went to Clark’s home in the Indian Mountain Lakes housing development in search of a woman who had backed into Cangiarella’s car and took off without stopping.
Clark later pleaded guilty in 2007 to aggravated assault in Carbon County Court and was sentenced to 54 to 108 months in prison.
According to the lawsuit, Cangiarella, who had followed the car into the development, obtained Clark’s address from Claire Thomas, a security officer for Century Security, who was working in the gatehouse at the entrance to the development.
The suit alleges Thomas was negligent for providing Clark’s address to Cangiarella because she should have known there was a strong probability an altercation would ensue.
In a court brief filed last week, Joseph Breymeier, attorney for Century Security, argued the suit should be dismissed because there is insufficient evidence to support Cangiarella’s negligence claims.
Under state law, a person alleging negligence must show a causal connection between a defendant’s actions and the harm caused to them. Previous appellate court cases have held that harm to the plaintiff must have been foreseeable, Breymeier says in court papers.
In Cangiarella’s case, Breymeier said pre-trial testimony of several witnesses revealed Cangiarella was calm when he approached Thomas seeking the identity of the driver of the suspected hit-and-run vehicle.
Given his demeanor, Breymeier argues there was no way Thomas could predict that an altercation, much less a shooting, would result.
Cangiarella’s attorney, William Anzalone, said he expects to file a response to the motion next week. In an interview Friday, Anzalone disputed Breymeier’s claims that the altercation was not foreseeable.
“They breached a basic, routine standard of care by disclosing the location of a resident of Indian Mountain Lakes. That’s against industry standard and the policies and procedures of Century Security, which is not supposed to give out that information,” Anzalone said.
Anzalone said the better way for Thomas to have handled the situation was to call the Clark home and advise them that someone wanted to speak to them about the accident.
“You don’t send someone off to a home unannounced, because a bad thing can happen,” Anzalone said. “It was very foreseeable, when you put it all together, that someone would get hurt.”