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Officers Put Stop To Meth Lab On Wheels

In a case that has significant landowner liability implications, four individuals are in custody after they allegedly cooked methamphetamines in a local hotel’s parking lot.

Stuart police officers who responded to a disturbance call found a PT cruiser that contained a “significant” amount of methamphetamines, according to an affidavit. Police also say they recovered syringes and a duffel bag filled with lye, camp fuel, sulfuric acid and other materials “commonly used by a methamphetamine cook who is efficient in breaking down the ingredients needed for the methamphetamine making process.” The federal Drug Enforcement Agency is assisting in the investigation. Methamphetamines are potentially explosive when the materials are handled in an unsafe or unsupervised manner.

It is unclear how long the four people – two from Ocala and two from Port St. Lucie – had been in the hotel’s parking lot.

Proving Negligence in Hotel Security Cases

In many landowner liability cases, there is direct evidence of negligence, such as surveillance video that clearly shows a cracked walkway or an employee’s written report about a wet spot on the floor. But in many other instances, the plaintiff must establish negligence, and specifically knowledge of the defect, through circumstantial evidence.

The 1911 case of Anjou v. Boston Elevated Railway Company, known in some circles as the “banana peel case,” offers guidance in this area. That case involved a woman who slipped on a banana peel at a Boston train station. Witnesses agreed that the peel was “black, flattened out and gritty,” a detail that looms large later. The transit company claimed it had no knowledge of the peel, especially given the fact that the slip-and-fall occurred during rush hour when it was nearly impossible for employees to police the area.

The court eventually ruled in favor of the injured victim, and offered the following analysis in support of its conclusion:

  • Yellow Peel: If the peel just appeared on the floor, there is no way that the owner could have known about it and therefore there is no liability for a slip-and-fall.
  • Black Peel: If the peel had been on the floor for quite some time, the owner should have known about it and should have taken steps to remove it.
  • Brown Peel: This peel is in a grey area (no pun intended), because the owner may or may not have known about the hazard. Additional evidence is needed to draw a conclusion.

Moreover, according to the court, the peel was “in such position that it would have been seen and removed by the employees of the defendant if they had performed their duty.”

In the above case, a hotel parking lot is clearly an area that the owner has a duty to inspect. If the rolling meth lab had exploded and the car had been in the parking lot for more than a few minutes, arguably the landowner should have taken steps to remove the vehicle. Therefore, liability would attach in that instance.

Contact Aggressive Lawyers

Landowners have an affirmative duty to keep the premises safe for invited business guests. For a free consultation with a zealous personal injury lawyer in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in personal injury matters.

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