Aetna Casualty vs. Pendleton Detectives: Case Study

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Among the benchmark legal precedents in American jurisprudence to address the field of private security, the case of Aetna Casualty and Surety Company v. Pendelton Detectives of Mississippi, Inc. has proven to carry lasting implications, both for private security officers and the entities which contract their services. This case involves a dispute between Aetna, a company which acted as an insurer and surety bond provider for The Merchants Company, Inc., and Pendelton Detectives of Mississippi, Inc., the private security firm Aetna contracted to protect Merchants' distribution warehouse facilities. When Merchants discovered through a routine inventory check that an inordinate amount of merchandise was being stolen from their warehouse, while Pendleton security officers were glaringly negligent in their duties, the company filed a claim for $430,266.68 with their insurance provider. After satisfying the claim, Aetna elected to file suit against Pendleton to recover this amount, and was subsequently awarded a partial sum of $174,000 by a jury. This decision was overturned, however, after a district court granted Pendleton's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law, and when Aetna filed their own appeal with the circuit court of appeals, the scene was set for a decisive examination of negligence within the administration of private security. In setting aside the decision rendered by the district court judge, the majority opinion authored by circuit judge John M. Duhe, Jr.

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