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Premises Liability Lawsuit Against Abercrombie In Sexual Assault Can Move Forward

March 7, 2014 by The Parrish Law Firm

A victim who suffered a sexual assault attack in 2008 at an Abercrombie & Fitch store at Valley View Mall is suing the clothing retailer for $1 million and the case is moving forward, reports The Roanoke Times.

The female victim, 16-years-old when the assault took place in 2008, was attacked in an Abercrombie changing room by Ryan Jason Sink, 32 at the time, who was subsequently charged with sexual assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison to be suspended after 10 years.

The victim, now an adult, sued Abercrombie last year, arguing that the retailer did not keep the store free from dangerous conditions, and did not warn her of the risks posed by other customers.

U.S. District Judge Samuel Wilson declared this week that the lawsuit could move forward after Abercrombie sought to get it dismissed on the grounds that the facts in the case did not show that the store was legally responsible for the teenager’s injuries.

The victim has had the case dismissed twice before; once for an attorney oversight and again for her attorney’s inability to state a plausible claim.

While retailers aren’t required to protect or warn consumers about every potential threat, they can be found liable if it’s proven that they knew criminal assaults where happening or were about to happen on their premises and failed to act.

According to accounts by Abercrombie employees, when Sink arrived in the store employees thought he looked sketchy or shady, and initially kept their eye on him as he wandered about. However, Sink didn’t do anything that necessitated intervention before he sneaked into the dressing room area and sexually assaulted the victim. Employees then forced their way into the changing room and chased Sink off.

Lawyers for Abercrombie argued that Abercrombie employees could not have been expected to confront “shady” or “sketchy” characters before those individuals broke the law, or else courts would be overwhelmed with profiling-related claims of discrimination.

Wilson wasn’t convinced however, citing the victim’s description of events in which the specific threat arose when an intoxicated Sink disappeared from sight with no clothing in hand and with “no apparent legitimate purpose” as he headed for the fitting area in use by the woman.

There has been no schedule set for the trial. We will keep you updated.

The Parrish Law Firm premises liability attorney works with northern Virginia residents who have been injured because of another party’s negligence. Contact us today for a free case consultation, or call us at 703-906-4229.

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