A Florida jury awarded $4.5 million to a grieving family after its loved ones were murdered inside their own apartment home. The jury found that the owners of the apartment complex were liable on grounds of premises liability, an area of law that holds property owners accountable for the dangerous conditions they permit or create.
Such a substantial verdict was sure to prompt a legal challenge. Sure enough, the defendants appealed — and won. Unsatisfied, the victim’s’ family took its plight to the Florida Supreme Court, which overruled the appellate court and ultimately upheld the original verdict for $4.5 million.
The heartbreaking case serves as a stern reminder of just how important premises safety can be. Moreover, it underscores the incredibly serious duty that landlords and property owners face under Florida law.
Dangerous Apartment Conditions Lead to a Double Murder
20-year-old Ciara Sanders lived in a small apartment with her 17-year-old brother, Chauncey, at Gatehouse on the Green in Plantation, FL. They’d spent about a year in the apartment when Ciara’s newborn baby joined them there.
Tragically, the two siblings were found dead in their apartment in September 2005. Both had apparently been shot, though next-door neighbors say they never heard gunfire.
Ten years later, police still haven’t solved the crime, though they suspect the two knew their killer(s). Fortunately, Ciara’s brand-new baby was left unharmed in the attack.
Reportedly, an investigation found that Gatehouse on the Green had allowed its front security gate to remain “chronically broken” for many months, despite the high rate of criminal activity at the complex. Notably, the owners began to repair the fence the day after the deaths, but it was too little, too late.
The jury found that the apartment’s operators had significantly contributed to the sibling’s’ death, though they ultimately assigned the owners only 40% of the negligence. That means the $4.7 million in damages would be reduced to $1.8 in total liability for the complex owner. After a years-long appeal process, the Florida Supreme Court ultimately made that verdict final.
Talk to an Experienced Miami Negligent Security Attorney
Sadly, violence and injuries unfold in apartment complexes and across all kinds of property throughout Florida every single day. Very often, a landlord or property manager’s negligence is to blame.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed, and you believe that unsafe property conditions may be to blame, an experienced Miami negligent security attorney at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC can help.
We understand how serious these cases are, and we have many years of experience in aggressively pursuing maximal compensation on our clients’ behalf. We’re here to help you. Our services are available without charge unless and until there’s a successful outcome in your case. Please contact us to set up a free consultation today.
- Overview of Negligent Security Cases
- Premises Liability Misconceptions
- Suing Bars for Negligent Security
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Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 30 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for many years.