Posecai v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
752 So.2d 762 (La. 1999)
Posecai was headed to her car in a Wal-Mart parking lot
when she was robbed. She sued Wal-Mart for negligence in failing
to provide security guards for the parking lot.
Posecai lost $19k of jewelry.
The Trial Court found for Posecai and awarded $30k.
The Trial Court noted that the area near the parking lot
was a high crime area, and so Wal-Mart should have known that there might be robberies in their parking lot.
The Appellate Court reversed.
The Appellate Court found that the key point of the case
was whether Wal-Mart owed Posecai a duty to protect. This hinged on
whether it was foreseeable that she might be robbed. There are
four approaches to foreseeability:
Specific harm rule: No duty is owed unless the
landowner is aware of specific imminent harm about to befall the
Prior similar incidents rule: Foreseeability
is established by evidence of previous similar instances.
Totality of the circumstances test: Start with
the prior similar incidents rule, but add in additional factors
and relevant factual information, to possibly establish foreseeability
despite a lack of prior similar instances.
Balancing test: Balance the foreseeability
of harm and the gravity of harm against the burden of imposing a duty to
The Court found the balancing test was
the right test to use for foreseeability.
In this case, there had only been 3 attacks in the
Wal-Mart parking lot in the previous 6 years, so it would be unfair to
ask Wal-Mart to provide security because the burden would outweigh the