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Short Hills Mall Carjacking Victim's Widow May Seek Punitive Damages, Judge Says

Owners and manager of mall denied bid to drop part of lawsuit claiming wrongdoing.

Dustin Friedland, pictured with his wife Jamie Schare Friedland, was shot and killed during a carjacking at the Mall at Short Hills in December 2013.
Dustin Friedland, pictured with his wife Jamie Schare Friedland, was shot and killed during a carjacking at the Mall at Short Hills in December 2013.

The owners of the Mall at Short Hills, where a Hoboken lawyer was fatally shot during a carjacking in December, were denied a bid to drop part of the charges in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the victim’s widow, NJ.com reported.

A Superior Court Judge said Friday he would not dismiss the claim for punitive damages as requested in a motion filed by the attorney representing mall owners Michigan-based Taubman Centers and Michael McAvinue, the mall’s general manager, saying there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

The widow of Dustin Friedland, Jamie Schare Friedland, filed a suit for an unspecified amount in March alleging the mall’s owners should have been aware the upscale Millburn mall with its proximity to major highways was a prime target for carjackings and should have taken appropriate precautions.

The lawsuit also names the mall’s security company and the Milburn First Aid Squad, which reportedly took 20 minutes to arrive on the scene and had to wheel a stretcher over to Friedland when the ambulance was unable to fit into the parking deck.

McAvinue, the mall’s general manager, defended security at the shopping complex in the days after the lawsuit was filed.

“There is no higher priority at The Mall at Short Hills than safety,” McAvinue said in a statement. “That is why we deploy a professional security force onsite and retain off-duty Millburn Police officers to augment the on-duty Millburn Police presence assigned to the mall throughout the year, including the evening of December 15, 2013.”

Friedland, a native of Toms River, was gunned down as he was helping his wife get into their Range Rover at about 9 p.m. on Dec. 15, 2013.

Friedland died at 11:45 p.m. that night at Morristown Medical Center.

Four Essex County men were arrested and charged with Friedland's death. Karif Ford, 31, Basim Henry, 32, and Kevin Roberts, 35 of Newark; and Hanif Thompson, 29, of Irvington, were charged with murder, felony murder, carjacking, conspiracy, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose.

All four men pleaded not guilty and await trial.

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