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Legal Report: Security Patrol Company Settles Negligent Death Lawsuit

Judicial Decisions

Negligence. Patrol security services company Asset Overwatch Services will pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit in response to the 2019 death of a Florida man who was killed inside his apartment at a complex Asset was contracted to protect.

Asset was the contract security provider for the building Kemoze Chambers lived in, which was managed by Silver Oaks Property Holdings and Blue Magma Residential. On 23 August 2019, someone shot and killed Chambers inside his apartment. The gunman remains at large.

Chambers’ mother sued Asset, Silver Oaks, and Blue Magma on behalf of her son’s estate. She claimed Asset had an insufficient number of competent security guards in visible areas to deter criminal activity. She also alleged that the property lacked adequate security measures, despite receiving notices about its insufficiencies.

The suit also alleged that all three defendants failed to take necessary precautions to protect residents from “reasonably foreseeable criminal acts,” especially given the building’s location in a high crime area, with assaults, shootings, robberies, and other crimes occurring on or near the building’s premises. (Wright v. Silver Oaks Property Holdings LLC et al., Orange County Circuit Court, No. 2021-CA-003426-O, 2021)

Money laundering. A U.S. federal judge sentenced former U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer Jose Irizarry to serve more than 12 years in prison for conspiring with a Colombian drug cartel to launder money.

Irizarry—who pled guilty in September 2020 to 19 charges, including bank fraud and aggravated identity theft—became involved in the scheme soon after he filed for personal bankruptcy protection in 2010.

According to court documents, Irizarry leveraged his standing as a special agent for the DEA to reroute an estimated $9 million from undercover money laundering investigations to himself and other conspirators. He used a stolen identity to open a bank account that received the diverted funds. Irizarry received at least $1 million in bribes and kickbacks.

Along with the 145-month prison sentence, Irizarry was ordered to pay $11,233 in restitution and relinquish his interests in items, including a luxury sports car.

During court proceedings, Irizarry insisted that the DEA had a culture of corruption, and U.S. District Court Judge Charlene Honeywell noted a need for additional investigations into potential corruption of other agents. (United States v. Jose Irizarry, U.S. District Court for Southern District of New York, No. 19-cr-913, 2021)

Irizarry’s wife, Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry, was also charged with involvement in the conspiracy. Gomez-Irizarry entered into a plea agreement with the government—she pled guilty to one count of a conspiracy to commit money laundering and was sentenced to five years of probation, during which time she must perform 50 hours of community service. She was also ordered to pay a fine and forfeit a Tiffany diamond ring. (United States v. Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry, U.S. District Court for Middle District of Florida, No. 20-cr-00077-CEH-TGW, 2020)

Legislation

Austria

Mandatory vaccinations. Austria enacted legislation that requires COVID-19 vaccinations for all residents through at least January 2024.

With the COVID-19 Compulsory Vaccination Act (164/ME XXVII.GP), the country became the first Western democratic nation to make these vaccinations mandatory. Exemptions are only available for pregnant women and people who cannot receive a vaccine for medical reasons or who recovered from a coronavirus infection in the past six months. The Austrian government is enforcing the federal law with financial penalties for those who refuse to get vaccinated. People 18 years or older who are not vaccinated may be fined up to €3,600 ($4,000) every three months.

At the end of 2021, Austria had one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe, with less than 70 percent of its population identifying as fully vaccinated.

United States

Artificial intelligence. U.S. senators passed a bill that would create a new training program for corporate staff that acquire and manage artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

As part of the Artificial Intelligence Training for the Acquisition Workforce Act (S. 2551), the U.S. Office of Management and Budget would be responsible for providing the training, plus regularly updating the program.

The bill was sent to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

Regulatory Decisions

Norway

Privacy. The Norwegian Data Protection Authority (NDPA) fined LGBTQ+ dating app Grindr a record 65 million Norwegian kroner ($7.2 million) for violating the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The NDPA determined that Grindr breached user consent requirements when it divulged users’ personal information to third parties for marketing; the third parties were also able to share that data with others. The information could be used to identify users and included GPS locations, IP addresses, age, and gender.

The NDPA determined that the data from Grindr could place users at physical risk.

“…Grindr users in Norway may have ties to territories where sexual minorities face persecution,” according to the NDPA’s decision. “…Risks may also apply if the individual belongs to certain conservative religious communities in Norway or abroad.”

The NDPA’s decision also disagreed with Grindr’s argument that physical and digital worlds are segregated and the disclosure of users’ personal information is unlikely to result in prejudice or discrimination in the real world.

Grindr notified users about how their data would be shared, but the notice was part of the privacy statement that users were forced to accept to use the app. Using this process meant Grindr did not obtain consent to share user data, the NDPA said, especially given that information about the disclosure of personal data was either mostly unclear or inaccessible to users.

The authority began investigating this issue in January 2020 at the request of the Norwegian Consumer Council.

This fine is the highest the authority has levied against an entity. The NDPA originally intended to fine the dating app 100 million kroner ($11 million), but the fine was decreased after Grindr provided information about its financial situation.

“In this case, we imposed a high violation fee, because we believe the violations are very serious,” Bjørn Erik Thon, director of the NDPA, said in a press release. “Thousands of users in Norway have had their personal information illegally disclosed for Grindr’s commercial interests.”

United States

Unfair advantage. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) determined that in putting together an ultimately successful bid to secure a $400 million U.S. Navy contract, Booz Allen Hamilton had an unfair advantage.

Booz Allen’s use of insights from two retired Navy captains gave it an unfair competitive edge with information that was not publicly available, according to the December 2021 audit.

The GAO gave the Navy two options to mitigate the issue. It must either disqualify Booz Allen from consideration for the contract, or it must “neutralize” the impact of the information that the former Navy captains had and consider revised bids.

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