In my previous post on this case, I discussed the tragic murders of Dr. Richard Field and Dr. Lina Bolaños, who were murdered in their multimillion dollar condominium, in the luxury Macallen Building, in South Boston on May 5 2017. This upscale building reportedly advertised 24-hour concierge and security services.
This tragic event raises a legal subject that not many people know about – a category of liability cases called “Negligent Security Lawsuits.” These types of lawsuits are a sub-specialty of a broader area of law known as Premises Liability, and in sum they are brought when a person has been attacked or injured by a third party at or in a property when the property owner has not provided adequate security to protect persons lawfully at or on that property. (Common examples include (office buildings, commercial properties or parking lots.) The families of Dr. Field and Dr. Bolanos have filed a lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court alleging that the building’s owners, managers and the security company that they hired did not provide adequate security that could have prevented this tragedy.
As you might suspect, the key in the preceding sentence is “adequate security” – and what this term does – and more often, doesn’t consist of. Because most property and building owners would have the public believe that placing someone who is wearing a security uniform is “adequate” security, and it isn’t. In fact, it’s almost always a charade; a false image, and essentially a misrepresentation, to the persons lawfully in or on that property, designed to create the appearance of safety and security, when in fact this is not being provided. What allegedly happened to this promising young couple, may well illustrate this point: The alleged murderer, a previously convicted bank thief by the name of Bampumim Teixeira, was able to get inside the building, then gain access to the 11th floor where the doctors’ condo was located. Teixeira reportedly overpowered the Dr. Field and Dr. Bolanos with a knife, then held them hostage while ransacking the condo for money and valuables. The two doctors were then murdered – their throats slashed.
No, this didn’t happen “in the hood”; nor did it happen on some lonely, dark road. It happened at a luxury condominium building located in an upscale community of up-and-coming, prosperous professionals.
So how could this happen?
First, Teixeira had previously worked at the upscale building as an employee of Palladion Services, a security and concierge company, for a period of time beginning in October of 2015.
The lawsuit alleges that as the result of this employment, Teixeira became aware that “security” at the building was an illusion, at best: That on a practical level, there was virtually no meaningful security provided. Notably, at the time Teixeira was hired by Palladion, he had already robbed a Citizens Bank branch in downtown Boston – not once, but twice, in August 2014 and again in June 2016. However, he was not ultimately charged in the 2014 robbery until 2016, the year after Palladion hired him. But this fact about the type of person Teixeira is, is very important, because it illustrates the type of people that many security companies employ: Low-skilled, low-trained, low-paid workers, most of whom have little to no skills in protecting the public. But this fact is concealed by these employees wearing company-issued “security” uniforms that create the appearance, the false impression of competence and security, but these employees in fact do little but sit at a front desk for several hours at a time; a very boring job.
Just weeks prior to the May 5 murders, Teixeira was released from the Suffolk County House of Correction. A few months earlier, at the beginning of 2017, a company named Highbridge Concierge took over security contract for the Macallen Building, according to the lawsuit. However, Palladion, the previous security company that hired Teixeira , reportedly never notified Highbridge Concierge of Teixeira ’s criminal past, nor did they notify the building’s management, or owners of Teixeira’s prior arrest and criminal conviction, despite the obvious need to do so.
Thus, it appears that Teixeira was free to commit these two murders that he is now charged with. The lawsuit states that Teixeira was observed “lurking outside” the Macallen Building shortly before 3 p.m. on the day of the murder, and entered through the garage door at approximately 3:50 p.m. To illustrate how easy this is to do, observations of the building demonstrated that virtually anyone was easily able to get inside the garage by simply walking in when the garage door is opened by a resident’s vehicle entering or exiting the garage. Simple. Would the average person call this “adequate security”? Worse, while there is a camera aimed at the garage doors, this feed was only viewable by a lobby security guard if he or she was actually looking at the monitor at the very moment someone slipped into the garage. A chance event at best, so precisely how is this an example of “adequate security”? Once inside the building, Teixeira was reportedly able to gain access to the 11th floor by using a staircase that was not locked that day. Once more: Exactly how is that “adequate security”?
None of this theater constituted “adequate security” – and in most commercial environments, it rarely does. But in most such environments, this illusion is specifically designed to create the appearance of security, in the minds of all who pass through the building – and that’s where most security companies have gotten away legally with far too much, for far too long. This case, tragically, very likely illustrates that.
But the ease with which Teixeira entered the building, got up to the 11th floor, and was able to commit the murders he is accused of, doesn’t just end with his entering the building unchallenged and making his way to the victims’ condominium. It allegedly gets far worse than that. The lawsuit states the following additional allegations:
Dr. Field reportedly texted a friend at 7:46 p.m., telling his friend that a gunman was in his condo; however, his friend did not actually see the text until approximately 8:15 p.m. Dr. Field’s friend then phoned the front desk of the building and reportedly pleaded with the Highbridge security guard to immediately go up to Field’s condo and check on Field and Bolaños. Somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes later, Dr. Field’s friend called this same security guard back, to ask him what he had discovered about Dr. Field’s safety. You might want to sit down before reading further, because what follows is beyond shocking: According to the lawsuit complaint, this same security guard told Dr. Field’s friend that – 20 to 30 minutes after this security guard has first been notified of this life-threatening event – he had still not yet gone to check on Drs. Field and Bolanos, reportedly because he “was still checking his notes”, or similar. Again, this is “adequate security”?
At approximately 8:38 p.m., Dr. Field’s friend and the security guard finally both called 911. When Boston police officers arrived, they found the doctors dead, their throats slashed. Storming the condo the officers shot Teixeira twice, believing he had a gun.
The basis of a civil lawsuit alleging negligent security, rest in the law of negligence. But in general, the specifics consist of the following:
- That the defendant (security company, property owner & manager, etc.) had a legal duty to the injured or deceased plaintiff
- That the defendant breached that duty by not providing adequate security
- That the defendant’s breach of that was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries or death
- That the plaintiff suffered specific harm (injuries or death) as a result of that breach of legal duty
As a Boston Massachusetts negligent security lawyer, I (as well as many other Massachusetts plaintiffs’’ injury attorneys)will be watching this case closely. Only when property owners and the security companies they employ are held liable for tragedies like this, will this industry ever improve to actually provide the “security” they claim to provide.