Local News

Progress Energy, city named in wrongful death suit

Posted August 21, 2008

— The husband of a slain Progress Energy employee who was kidnapped from a downtown Raleigh parking garage is suing the city, the utility and others for negligence in her death.

Walter Moreland filed the wrongful-death lawsuit Thursday afternoon, saying the city, which leases the garage that sits beneath Progress Energy's headquarters on South Wilmington Street, and Progress Energy failed to provide adequate security that could have prevented his wife from being abducted.

According to prosecutors, Cynthia Moreland, 48, was on her way to work at around 6:40 a.m. on Aug. 22, 2006, when Antonio Davon Chance abducted, raped and murdered her. Authorities found her body 11 days later behind an abandoned farmhouse in Harnett County.

Chance, 30, pleaded guilty to the crimes Aug. 14 and was sentenced to life in prison.

"As the employer of Ms. Moreland, Progress Energy knew or should have known that Ms. Moreland and other employees came to work early in the morning and parked in the building occupied by Progress Energy," the complaint states.

It goes on to say the security surveillance system installed in the parking garage was inadequate and lacked features of a state-of-the-art system. "This was negligent, given other modern features of the $100 million project."

The city of Raleigh was negligent, the complaint states, in that it appeared to want to boost parking revenues at the expense of security.

Progress Energy spokesman Mike Hughes would not talk about the lawsuit, but said the company does not own the parking garage. He also said the safety of its 2,000 employees who work and park in downtown is always a concern.

"The safety of our employees is very important to our company," he said. "We still feel the loss of Cynthia."

Calls to Raleigh's mayor, city manager and city attorney, as well as calls to other parties named in the suit, were not immediately returned Thursday.

Walter Moreland and his daughter, Keisha Mangum, declined to comment and referred any questions to his attorneys. They declined to comment, saying the complaint "speaks for itself."

Quantum Support Inc. and Security Forces Inc, as well as McLaurin Parking Co., which manages the garage, are among the defendants in the lawsuit.

The complaint says they should have been monitoring security cameras in the garage and, had they done so, would have seen Chance "walking in a suspicious direction at a suspicious time toward the place of the abduction."

Surveillance video also captured Chance driving Cynthia Moreland's Toyota Camry out of the deck.

"Reasonably attentive security would have observed a scared, well-dressed woman leaving the deck with a suspicious individual at a suspicious departure time and would have been alerted by the circumstances, but defendants had no one patrolling the area."

Cynthia Moreland's murder prompted the city, Progress Energy and McLaurin to look at increased security measures.

"It certainly was a catalyst – a very unfortunate catalyst," Hughes said. "It prompted a lot of individuals to take an interest in safety. If there is any silver lining, a lot more people are focused on safety."

Raleigh leaders established tighter security measures for downtown parking lots and garages. Among them, the Raleigh Police Department reallocated resources to put more officers in parking decks in the mornings and the evenings.

The Raleigh City Council spent more than $220,000 for a foot safety patrol in the area.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • FromClayton Aug 22, 2008

    She was a good person who did not deserve to die. My family knew her. Please do not muddy her name with a lawsuit. It will not bring her back. It will only make her look bad for the greedy company she kept.

  • Conservative Aug 22, 2008

    clickclackity2 said "And I'd file a lawsuit too...just because most of these employers want you come to work extremely early and leave extremely late, during inclement weather and all for the company's benefit."

    Progress Energy has flex hours. There are several employees who choose to come in early so they can leave early. Again, as I said in another comment, we are living in a free country and no one is putting guns to our heads and saying "you shall work here and you shall work on my terms".

  • Conservative Aug 22, 2008

    ncweddingdj.com said "Providing safe, reasonably priced (or free), accessible parking should be a part of a good employer's employee benefits package."

    The last time I checked, we live in a free country and we can choose where we work. If a person is not satisfied with any of the benefits, he/she is free to choose not to work at a given establishment. If you have a way of absolutely guaranteeing 100 percent safety I am all ears. Please do tell how that can be achieved.

  • Conservative Aug 22, 2008

    NC is my home - I sincerely hope you don't believe the things you have suggested. If you really do believe, then you need some heavy duty counseling. Sue a company because in your warped way of thinking, they are "looking to be in the public eye". Can you please explain how that logic works?

  • Conservative Aug 22, 2008

    apeenyforyourthoughts said "Whether it's about the money or not, it's also about the principle. I would do the same, whether anyone liked it or not, as well as most of those that are against it now, if it was me."

    Really, how does your "principle" justify suing Progress Energy that does not even own the parking lot? So your solution is "when in grief, sue whoever is handiliy available especially if there is potential for big money"! No wonder leeches - sorry, I mean trial lawyers - exist, to satisfy your thirst.

  • smeyer Aug 22, 2008

    I am an employee of Progress Energy who has worked downtown for the past 5 years. I do not park in the deck in question as we can park anywhere we want to contrary to what some foks here think. Many of my co-workers park in the deck both now and before this tragic event and no one has ever told me they feel unsafe parking there. It is true that security has been beefed up since then but it was way more secure than many of the adjacent lots before changes were made. As mentioned before, Progress does not own nor operate this parking lot and it really doesn't matter because their was no negligence on the company's part in this matter. My co-workrs and I are still saddened by the loss of Cynthia but I have lost respectt for Mr. Moreland by his filing this lawsuit. Money wont help his grief and this lawsuit will not prevent another such incident from occurring. The only guilty party here is the scum that committed the crime and he will be in prison the rest of his life. Let it go......

  • smeyer Aug 22, 2008

    I am an empoyee at Progress Energy and work downtown. I do not park in the deck in question as the company does not "require" us to park there, we can park anywhere we want contrary to what some foks here think. Many of my co-workers park in the deck now and did so prior to this tragic event. No one I know ever tod me they didn't feel safe

  • 68_polara Aug 22, 2008

    Good point rargos, and that is why the city is negligent.

  • rargos Aug 22, 2008

    "I despise parking garages. If I had a job that required me to park in one, I would definately have a CCP and be armed at all times."

    Not if it were a city parking lot or a private lot that displays a "no guns allowed" sign. The places where you most need a concealed weapon are usually those where you're prohibited from carrying one.

  • Slip Kid Aug 22, 2008

    NC is my home - you have point, a *very small* point. You'd be good for the jury on this one, if the rest of us are unlucky enough to have it make it to court.