A woman who was repeatedly raped by two men who accosted her outside the door of her Venice apartment in 1980 was awarded more than $750,000 last week by a Santa Monica Superior Court jury that found that her apartment building did not have adequate security.
During the two-week trial, jurors heard testimony that Meryl Penner and her brother, Scott, were leaving her apartment at 601 Coeur D'Alene on Aug. 5, 1980, when two masked men, one with a rifle, shoved the Penners back into the apartment.
Scott Penner, then 17, was held captive for nearly three hours while his sister was attacked, according to testimony.
As a result, the jurors were told, Meryl Penner, 24 at the time of the assault, is so afraid of men that she has been unable to form normal relationships.
She was awarded $750,000 for emotional distress and $35,000 for lost earnings. Scott Penner was awarded $412,000.
Penner's attorney, Jerome Ringler, said that the rapists were never identified.
The lawsuit against the building's owners, 601 Coeur D'Alene Ltd. and general partner Bruce Augustus, charged that the building was located in a high-crime neighborhood and that it could have been easily secured by the installation of two gates, one at each end of a corridor leading to all 12 units of the building.
The gates have since been installed, Ringler said.