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To the editor: Ron Morgan's letter in your Feb. 3 issue, "Of Robbery, Risk and Common Sense," makes a good deal of sense, but I must still agree with your Jan. 13 editorial that compliance with an armed robber's demands should not be made a legal duty.
It may be true as Mr. Morgan states that such compliance is the best way to avoid harm to employees and customers. Certainly businesses should do everything within their power to ensure customer and employee safety. However, as you pointed out in your editorial, crime is not always predictable, and criminals are not always rational.
One aspect of attempts to hold businesses liable for crimes committed on their premises that you did not consider is that businesses may simply decide not to locate in perceived high-crime areas. This would certainly be undesirable from society's point of view.
The most reasonable approach is to judge each situation on its own merits. A business that trains its employees in proper ways to react to crime should not be liable if those employees follow their training, regardless of the outcome.
Editor's note: The Jan. 13 editorial, "Court Unties Business' Hands," was based on the California Supreme Court's decision that a restaurant employee's refusal to promptly comply with the demands of an armed robber does not breach a duty to ensure the safety of third parties from foreseeable harm.