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Family of ax-murder victim sues lot owner for negligent security

In Nov. 2011, a 28-year-old man from Edison, New Jersey, was murdered with a pick ax late one night in an industrial lot in Sayreville. That lot was reportedly part of the property of Viking Terminal Marine, a wholesale marine and industrial equipment dealer. Three men have been charged with the murder, two of whom have just been named as defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the victim’s family -- and so has Viking Terminal Marine.

In both New York and New Jersey, crime victims or their surviving family members can filed lawsuits seeking compensation for their injuries and financial damages caused by the crime -- and against anyone whose negligence contributed to the injuries or death. The reason the family is suing the wholesaler is their belief that, if it weren’t for the company’s negligent security arrangements, the Edison man probably wouldn’t have been killed.

According to prosecutors, three men were engaged in a conspiracy to commit this murder because, it seems, they wanted to be “goodfellas,” or at least appear to be.

One of the men, a 30-year-old, had convinced at least one of the others that he had real connections to the Mafia. The street credibility those supposed connections gave him eventually engendered aspirations in his 27-year-old associate to achieve similar notoriety by joining the mob, investigators believe.

The older man, therefore, gave the younger one an assignment -- to murder an acquaintance, the Edison man. Prosecutors say he not only encouraged the murder but advised the younger man on how to do it.

Acting as the alleged Mafioso’s agent or employee, prosecutors claim, he somehow lured the Edison man to a nighttime meeting at the lot owned by Viking Terminal Marine, with whom the alleged killers had a business relationship. Presumably, that business relationship had given them some knowledge of the lack of security on the lot.

The third member of the alleged conspiracy was not named as a defendant in the wrongful death lawsuit because his involvement came later. His role was apparently to destroy the evidence and hinder the murder investigation. All three defendants have pled not guilty. No trial has yet been scheduled.

When property owners fail to provide appropriate security, they invite illegal activity onto their premises. Whether Viking Terminal Marine’s lot security was negligent is a question for the jury.

Source: New Jersey Star-Ledger, “Edison man's estate sues man charged with killing him in 2011,” Sue Epstein, Oct. 10, 2013

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