Mother Settles Negligent Security in Apartment Killing

Posted on October 17, 2008

The mother of a 13-year-old Jacksonville girl killed by a stray bullet has settled her lawsuit against the apartment complex where they lived.

Tina Williams filed the lawsuit against Hartwood Place Apartments in Jacksonville. She claimed if the apartments had better security her daughter, Shenice Holmes would be alive today.

There had been a dozen violent crimes around and in the complex, including two cases where bullets were fired into apartments. Shenice was killed as she read a book on her bed.

The shooter, 21-year-old Willie O. Tucker is serving a life sentence in her death.
The specifics of the settlement are confidential.

Over the past 15 years, appellate court across the country have found that a landowner has a duty to provide adequate security when there is a history of criminal activity on or near the property.

This is true whether it’s an apartment complex, a storage unit, an office building or a rental car return lot. A failure to do so amounts to negligent security.

In order to be successful in these claims, the level of foreseeable risk of danger at the commercial establishment must be established. Maybe there is a history of similar crimes at the property, or crimes have occurred in the area.

Even with no criminal history, an experienced negligent security attorney and security investigators can investigate whether areas of the commercial property — the entrances and exits, the lighting, the locking and security measures — are adequate to protect anyone from violent crime.

Anyone operating a commercial property is also obligated to perform criminal background checks on all employees with access to the property, to adequately screen new tenants, and to have security procedures.

The property owner has an obligation to warn tenants about any problems or criminal activities on or near the property.

It’s very likely Shenice Holmes would have been better protected if all of these procedures had been practiced. #

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