Many people like living in gated communities for the security that they provide. Having that extra layer of protection give you the peace of mind to sleep a little easier at night. Even if you live in an apartment complex, it is often nice to have a fence around the building to make sure unwanted guest are not able to access your building. But what if the gate malfunctioned and did not close appropriately? Or, even worse, what if the fence around your complex had holes in that allowed people to come and go as they please? Surely, when you signed up to live in these communities you expect that the gates and fences will function properly to keep you safe. Who is to blame if you were injured if a person were to rob or attack while entering your community through a faulty fence or gate?
Multimillion Dollar Verdicts for Defective Apartment Entrance Gates
Luckily, we have some good case law to give us guidance on negligent apartment complex security.
In Sanders v. ERP Operating, a family of two murder victims brought a negligence action against the owner of the apartment building where the victims lived and were massacred. In 2004, two people moved into an apartment complex advertised as a “gated community” with a gated front entrance. A year after they moved in, the victims were shot to death by unidentified aggressors inside their unit. Although there was no indication of forced entrance, a wedding ring, money, credit cards, and a computer were taken from the apartment. Evidence exposed that in the three years preceding the homicides, there were two unlawful occurrences where the gate had been broken and criminals followed the inhabitants onto the premises. One of these events resulted in an armed robbery; the other resulted in a battering. The entrance gate was broken for roughly two months preceding the killings.
The complaint alleged the apartment complex did not maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition by failing to: (1) maintain the front gate; (2) have adequate security; (3) prevent dangerous persons from gaining access to the premises; and (4) protect and warn residents of dangerous conditions and criminal acts. The jury found the defendant forty percent comparatively negligent, and awarded damages of $4.5 million dollars apportioned to family of the murdered victims. Sanders v. ERP Operating Ltd. P’ship, 40 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. (Fla. Feb. 12, 2015). On appeal, the Supreme Court of Florida held that evidence of gaps in security raised fact issue for jury as to whether those failures allowed assailants to more easily gain access to decedents’ apartment.
What do the courts say about defective gated community security?
In the early morning hours of January 6, 2003, Lidia Giangrandi was slain in her home by an intruder. Her family brought a wrongful death action against her alarm company and against the security company which contracted to provide security to the gated community where she lived. The jury found the security company and the alarm company to be equally at fault.
The woman lived in a gated community with a guard at the entrance and a roving guard. The roving guard’s orders require that patrolling shall be done continuously. The murderer entered the community on an open pedestrian path. The killer spotted the woman’s window cracked open and entered her house through the open window. Next, the murderer cut the screen of the window. The screen included security wires, but the alarm did not go off. It was later determined that the alarm company improperly installed the alarm.
The outcome of the trial was that the jury determined that both the security company and the alarm company were liable for the death. Mrs. Giangrandi’s three surviving descendants were awarded the $4.78 million for considerable pain and suffering.
SPEAK WITH AN EXPERIENCED NEGLIGENT SECURITY ATTORNEY IN THE CLEARWATER & TAMPA BAY AREA FOR FREE
If you or a loved one has suffered losses or received injuries that could have been prevented or avoided had an company taken appropriate steps to avoid them—like a faulty entrance gate or damaged fences—you may be entitled substantial monetary compensation to help you recuperate from your damages.
Speak with a knowledgeable personal injury and negligent security attorney in Clearwater today for a free consultation and case evaluation. Call us now at 727-451-6900.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765