Gary Bruce discusses apartment owners’ responsibility to their tenants. One of the duties owners have is to keep the premises safe. Much like other areas of tort law, the duty of an owner of an apartment building depends largely on whether or not the owner has reason to know of a problem. If an owner of a store, mall, or apartment complex is aware of a safety issue and fails to correct it, they can be held responsible for any injuries guests or occupants sustain.
Gary also discusses the apportionment of damages which is often an issue in a case with multiple causes. A jury in such a case might be asked to “ apportion” responsibility for an injury amongst several defendants. If you have been injured by a condition on commercial property or due to the neglect of a landlord, you may have a claim for compensation for your damages. If you have any questions we are happy to discuss your situation and your options with a free case consultation.
For more information on landlord responsibilities, see Gary’s recent segment that discusses both landlord and tenant obligations in a lease agreement.
Maureen: Hello there and welcome to Legal Break, I’m Maureen Akers and with us today is, Gary Bruce. Gary, thank you so much for joining us today.
Gary: Thank you for having me again.
Maureen: As always. And we’re talking about issues that are out there in the news as related to the legal field, and today we’re talking about recently in Palm Beach County there was a pretty major lawsuit. A mother of a victim who was shot in a condominium is suing the owner because she’s saying they didn’t provide adequate security. Tell us a little bit about that and who’s responsible.
Gary: Well these are cases that happen everywhere, not just Florida, In fact, we had one here in Columbus recently. The issue is – was there adequate security? And if you don’t provide adequate security, when you’re on notice of a problem then you may have civil liability. So, that becomes the question, you know, was it reasonable? Is what you did reasonable? Did you have a duty to protect, or provide security in the complex or business or whatever environment it is, and did you fail to meet that duty? That’s the question the juries are given to determine whether there should be damages awarded.
Maureen: Right, so the owner has a responsibility. What if there is a heated crime wave, or areas you know have been known for these kinds of things, does that raise the level of responsibility of an owner of a business or conduct?
Gary: Yeah absolutely, I mean that’s that really is what the issue is. If you don’t ever have problems, and I don’t have a security guard at my office, thank heavens I don’t think we need one. But if you have a situation where there’s crime, and you know about it then it’s like any tort, really, it’s about do you have a duty? Do you breach that duty? Does it cause an injury? And when you know of a problem, and you don’t do anything about it, then you’ve breached a duty. And that’s what the question then becomes. What I find interesting about these big verdicts sometimes, and especially in this kind of setting, where there’s multiple people involved, is that the courts will instruct juries many times to apportion the damage, the percentage of fault. So, we don’t hear about that part of it a lot of time.
Maureen: No, we don’t.
Gary: Juries award damages for the value of the life, that’s the big number. But, then they may say that the apartment owner, the condo owner, had a 30% responsibility, the person that was injured had 25% responsibility, maybe the shooter had 40% responsibility. And so then, the judge, then at the end applies those percentages to the award of damages, and that’s how sometimes, you can have a big verdict that really doesn’t reflect, how the damage is apportioned among the parties. And I think that brings some justice and clarity to the situation, and when you’re dealing with joint efforts and many people involved.
Maureen: Absolutely, and I guess apply some of that responsibility as we talked about. So, very interesting cases in the news. Thank you so much for joining us today Gary, and we look forward to seeing you on the very next Legal Break!