Partner Amy L. Fenno Wins Appeal in White Castle Shooting Case Salichs v City of New York

In a high exposure press case involving the fatal shooting of an off duty NYC police officer, Partner Amy Fenno successfully argued before the Appellate Division First Department who reversed the lower court decision in the matter of Salichs v City of New York, and granted summary judgment to O’Connor Redd’s client Westec Interactive Security.

The case arose out of an early morning altercation in the parking lot of a White Castle restaurant where Westec Interactive Security provided remote video camera surveillance. Before the shooting, off duty police officer Hernandez was across the street at the Jet Set Café. Once inside the White Castle, a fight ensued between Hernandez and several other patrons. In that fight, a legally intoxicated Hernandez sustained an orbital fracture and other injuries.. In the aftermath of the fight, a dazed Hernandez exited the White Castle with his duty revolver, mistook a young man in the parking lot as one of his assailants and aimed his loaded service revolver at his head. When the NYPD arrived at the scene, they ordered Hernandez to drop his weapon and, when he failed to do so, fatally shot him.

The Court was persuaded by Ms.Fenno’s arguments, and reversed the lower court decision, finding that Hernandez's death was not a foreseeable result of a lapse in Westec’s security services. Further, the Court found it was speculative to assume that additional security measures could have prevented decedent's subsequent actions in the parking lot, or the police shooting thereafter. Since the subsequent independent acts of Hernandez and the police were extraordinary and not foreseeable or preventable in the normal course of events, the Court held that Westec’s purported security failures were not a proximate cause of decedent's injuries. The Court also found that the complaint should have been dismissed against Westec because Hernandez was not an intended third-party beneficiary of the contract for security services between White Castle and Westec.