Slain woman's spouse suing Westview Mall Negligence alleged in $12 million suit

November 24, 1992|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

The husband of Jane Tyson, the grandmother slain on the Westview Mall parking lot during a June 1991 robbery, has filed a lawsuit against the mall's owners, alleging that they knew about a violent crime wave at the mall, yet failed to protect Mrs. Tyson.

"We essentially say there was an enormous amount of very serious criminal activity going on at the mall prior to her death," said William F. Gately, attorney for John N. Tyson. Westview owners "should have known about it. Having known about it, they should have provided far more security."

The 21-page suit was filed yesterday in Baltimore County Circuit Court. It alleges negligence, fraud and wrongful death. Mr. Tyson is seeking $2 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.

Sandra Ragusi, an attorney for the Balcor Development Company of Maryland, an Illinois corporation that is a general partner of the mall, said her firm had not yet seen the suit and could not comment.

Mrs. Tyson, 49, was shot to death in front of her two grandchildren on June 6, 1991, during a robbery that netted $10. She had gone to the mall to buy a pair of shoes.

Three weeks ago, the man who shot Mrs. Tyson, Wesley Baker, 34, was sentenced to death by a Harford County Circuit Court judge. His accomplice, Gregory Lawrence of Woodlawn, was convicted and sentenced in January to life plus 33 years for his role in the murder and robbery.

The civil suit against Westview Mall Associates and the Balcor Company charges that during the 17 months before Mrs. Tyson's death, there were 27 violent crimes committed at the mall or in its parking lots.

Despite the numerous robberies and assaults committed on its property, the suit charges, the mall had only one security guard patrolling its "expansive parking areas," which "substantially enhanced the likelihood of a customer's exposure to criminal assault."

"This act of violence perpetrated upon Jane Frances Tyson was neither random, isolated or unforeseeable," the suit states. "It was part of a continuing, persistent, unabated pattern of criminal violence directed at Westview Mall customers of which Westview Mall Associates was . . . fully aware."

The suit charges mall owners with fraud in advertising Westview as a "wholesome, attractive and safe environment" for shoppers.

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