Lawsuit blames San Diego mall in shooting deaths in parking lot
LOS ANGELES — A San Diego shopping mall was negligent in not providing better security measures that might have prevented the Christmas Eve shooting deaths of three persons in its parking lot, a lawsuit asserts.
Filed by attorney Daniel Gilleon in San Diego County Superior Court, the lawsuit says that the mall’s owner, Westfield Centers, “failed to use reasonable care to protect their patrons, guests, tenants and invitees,” Los Angeles Times reported.
Gilleon noted a similarity between this lawsuit and the civil action against the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2011 beating of Bryan Stow. In July, a jury found the Dodgers liable for $13.9 million.
“The Dodgers learned the hard way that businesses profiting from people coming onto their property have to protect those patrons from criminals,” Gilleon said. “It’s the law and it’s meant to protect us all.”
The shopping mall’s security cameras were not working and security personnel did a poor job of patrolling the parking lot the night of the deaths “for the all-important purpose of deterring criminal activity,” the lawsuit asserts.
A spokesman for Westfield Centers declined comment Friday.
The lawsuit was filed last week on behalf of the families of Ilona Flint, 22, Salvatore Belvedere, 22, and Gianni Belvedere, 24. Flint was engaged to Gianni Belvedere.
Flint and Salvatore Belvedere were fatally shot while sitting in a car late on Dec. 24, 2013, in the parking lot outside Macy’s in the Westfield Mission Valley mall. Flint, an employee at the mall, had called Salvatore Belvedere for a ride home after she finished working late.
The body of Gianni Belvedere, 24, was found Jan. 17 in the trunk of his parked car outside a shopping mall in Riverside.
“If the Dodgers had to pay $13 million for one patron getting beaten in the parking lot,” Gilleon said, “how much should Westfield pay for three dead bodies?”
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for funeral and burial expenses and “loss of love, companionship, comfort (and) care.”
Carlo Mercado, 29, arrested in June, is charged with three counts of murder. No motive for the killings has been revealed. Prosecutors say ballistics tests and DNA link Mercado to the three deaths.
A court psychiatrist found that Mercado suffers from schizophrenia and depression and is not competent to stand trial. A judge ordered him sent to a state mental hospital until he is able to stand trial.