PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The family of the 36-year-old woman killed at a Palm Beach Gardens gas station during a robbery last September is preparing to file a lawsuit against the owner for negligent security.
Jacqueline Barthelemy stopped for gas on her way home from work at the Chevron gas station on Alternate A1A just before 11 p.m. on the night of Sept. 11, 2020.
Little did she know that an armed robbery was in progress. She was shot and killed, leaving behind her husband and two children.
The family's attorney is now preparing to bring a civil suit against the owner citing what's commonly referred to as the "Florida Convenience Store Statute."
Crime victim attorney Michael Haggard said he has represented more than 25 different cases involving security at gas stations and convenience stores.
"You walk into a gasoline station and there's all these ads -- you know, Budweiser, you know, cigarettes, you know, Powerball, and that's very dangerous," Haggard said. "Because what it does is that if there's a suspicious person out in the gas pump area, walking back and forth from unobstructed views, the clerk can't see that person."
Haggard added that gas stations stations are the No. 1 robbery target, even more than banks.
"So the clerk can't see the threat to their customers because of all of these ads," he said. "That's actually against the law in the state of Florida. We have a convenience store act that says you can't have advertisements obstructing your view. That's probably the No. 1 cause that we've seen in over 20 cases, where a suspicious person is outside. They're there for five or 10 minutes."
Haggard said the circumstances surrounding his client's death is an important reminder about what to look out for when it's time to fill a gas tank.
Here's a list of "Gas Station Security Essentials" to keep in mind:
- Lighting that illuminates the entire parking lot, service area
- Cameras that cover the entire property
- Unobstructed views into and out of the gas station, especially the register area
- More than one employee on duty
- Visible security presence, especially if the gas station is located in a high crime area or area off a highway
"If gasoline station owners do the reasonable steps, they assess their crime, they survey their property, they don't have advertisements in their window, they have working surveillance cameras that they can see right then and there, their blind spots outside, they can see that, then they won't be held responsible, because that's all the reasonable steps you can do," Haggard said.
The Haggard Law Firm plans to hold a news conference Wednesday.
WPTV has contacted the gas station owner involved in the case for comment.