BOCA RATON FLA. Jan 9 2008 – Well before the slaying of a mother and her young daughter, Town Center was “put on notice” about security issues at the mall but failed to take any measures to protect its patrons, according to a wrongful-death lawsuit filed Tuesday by the sister of Nancy Bochicchio.The lawsuit, filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court against Town Center owner Simon Property Group, was filed a day after Boca Raton City Council members lambasted mall officials for their response after the Dec. 12 shooting deaths of Bochicchio and her 7-year-old daughter Joey Bochicchio-Hauser. Attorney David Shiner, who represents Bochicchio’s sister JoAnn Bruno, said the lawsuit is secondary to finding the killer.”The most important thing is, we’ve got to catch the person or persons who did this crime,” Shiner said.
Shiner slammed mall officials on Tuesday, saying that a carjacking and abduction reported on Aug. 7 was not appropriately dealt with in terms of security and public awareness.”If there was a response, obviously it wasn’t sufficient enough because we have an 8-year-old kid who is dead and a mother who is dead,” Shiner said. “If that incident was made a little bit more public, I believe that not just Nancy and her daughter but the majority of people during the holiday would have been more aware of their surroundings and been a little more cautious.”Simon spokeswoman Billie Scott declined to comment on pending litigation.Nancy Bochicchio and her daughter Joey, who lived west of Boca Raton, were found bound and shot in their black SUV after apparently being forced to withdraw money from an ATM. Joey Bochicchio was just days shy of her eighth birthday.The lawsuit contends that both Boca Raton police and mall patrons put Simon officials on notice about “certain serious security problems,” yet acted with reckless disregard for patrons’ safety by failing to take security measures. Simon also should have anticipated that violent crimes could occur on the property but did not provide adequate security personnel, according to the complaint.Last week, mall officials unveiled plans for a new police substation and a proposed enhancement of its surveillance-camera system. The plans have been in the works for months, mall officials said.Town Center officials were criticized during a City Council meeting Monday during which one councilman said he was outraged about the mall’s reaction in the aftermath of the double homicide. Mall officials responded with a statement, saying management staff has been in frequent contact with city officials about security as well as about Town Center’s role in supporting a reward.The reward for information about the killings stands at $350,000.Bruno’s attorneys already have begun gathering information about Simon’s dealings with police on security matters, Shiner said. He has requested documentation of any meetings between Town Center officials and police.One of the main purposes of the lawsuit is to ensure that property owners who invite people onto their premises protect those patrons, Shiner said.”The family doesn’t want to see this happen to another family,” Shiner said. “We do believe that Simon Property Group has a very, very substantial responsibility in protecting its patrons.”Bruno, who has been appointed personal representative of the estates of her sister and niece, is “holding up” but remains fearful that the killer has not been caught, Shiner said. Potential beneficiaries are listed as Bruno, Joey’s father Philip Hauser and her two half-sisters, who are not identified in the complaint “due to concerns over their physical safety.”The lawsuit does not specify the damages being sought.”A mother and her daughter were killed,” Shiner said. “I don’t think anyone can put a dollar amount on that.”
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