When a property owner in Atlanta has reason to foresee there will be an injury-producing crime against certain visitors on his or her property, that property owner may be held accountable for the damages arising out of that crime in an Atlanta premises liability claim. In a recent Georgia appellate case, the court considered the sexual assault of a 12-year-old in an apartment building. Her conservator sued the apartment’s management company for its negligence, as well as negligent security. The court denied the company’s motion for summary judgment. The company appealed.
The case arose at a 9-story apartment building that provided Section 8 housing. The defendant company had taken some steps towards security. Visitors needed to sign in and there was a list of visitors banned from the building. The residents needed key fobs to come into the building, and there were security cameras as well as a security guard. The police were called, and the perpetrator pled guilty to child molestation and rape. Additionally, the plaintiff filed a premises liability action based on the theory that the defendants had negligently failed to keep the apartment safe and to adequately protect invitees, as well as negligent security under OCGA section 51-3-1.
The defendants asked for summary judgment on the grounds that the perpetrator’s intervening criminal act wasn’t foreseeable because there wasn’t proof of prior substantially similar criminal acts on or near the apartment complex. The lower court heard oral arguments on motions. It denied the motion for summary judgment on the premises liability claim. It found there was a jury question on whether the defendants should’ve foreseen the particular risk presented by the perpetrator.