I’m not reacting to this as a wrongful death lawyer, but as a neighbor, husband and father. Any sudden death is awful. Death at the hands of a violent criminal who invades your home is especially horrifying.
This is a shock to me. The Gramercy apartments building is just about a block from my church. I ran past Gramercy apartments regularly from before the beginning of construction, observing the demolition of the apartments that stood there before and the construction of this building. For 12 years my office was just around the block from Gramercy apartments. Now I drive past Gramercy at least twice a day. A couple my wife and I knew in our church were murdered in their home in Dunwoody just a couple of weeks ago. And as a father of a young woman in college far away from home, it makes me think about her safety.
It is premature to speculate whether the apartment management company would have any civil liability in this incident. However, I have been on plaintiff and defense sides of such cases arising at apartment complexes in metro Atlanta over the past 20 years. A few of the the potentially relevant points include:
- Whether there were prior criminal incidents, e.g., burglaries, assaults, etc., on the property or nearby, which would put the property owner or management on notice of the need for enhanced security.
- Whether the victim was targeted for personal reasons (generally no liability of owner or management) or was the victim of a random crime of opportunity that could have been prevented with better premises security (might be liability).
- Whether there were problems with broken or defective locks or security systems.
Investigation begins with the police. Fortunately, Atlanta has a pretty professional homicide unit. Any evaluation of potential civil liability comes later.
But first the victim’s family deserves space and time to grieve.
Ken Shigley, author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation & Practice, is A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and has been listed as a "Super Lawyer" (Atlanta Magazine), among the "Legal Elite" (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers . He practices law at the Atlanta law firm of Chambers, Aholt & Rickard, and has broad experience in catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, products liability, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. He is also president-elect of the State Bar of Georgia. This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.