Occupant's Estate Sues Landlord and Its Security for Wrongful Death After Shooting
LVT Number: #32137
The estate of a deceased apartment occupant sued landlord and its building security provider for wrongful death after the occupant was shot to death by attackers in 2014 on the 17th floor of landlord's apartment building. The estate claimed that the shooter and his accomplice gained access to the building by following another tenant into the main entrance vestibule, and then waiting for security to buzz the tenant in by electronically unlocking the inner vestibule door from a remote security booth located across the street and without confirming the identity of the two intruders. The estate claimed that the defendants failed to provide proper building security and that the attackers "piggybacked" into the building.
Landlord and the security company asked the court to dismiss the case. They argued that the premeditated murder of the occupant was an unforeseeable, intervening cause of his death that broke any possible connection between the death and claimed negligence by the landlord and security company.
The court ruled against landlord and the security company, who appealed and lost. The test for determining how to rule on a motion to dismiss a negligent door security claim shouldn't focus on whether the crime committed within the building was "target" or "random" but whether or not, and to what extent, an alleged negligently maintained building entrance was a concurrent contributory factor in the happening of the criminal occurrence. Here, although the precise nature and manner of the crime couldn't necessarily have been anticipated, the claimed longstanding inoperability of the front door intercom system and the claimed failure of security officers to screen visitors properly made it foreseeable that some form of criminal conduct could occur to the detriment of residents at some point in time.
Carmona v. Sea Park E., LP: Case No. 2019-05148, Index No. 11792/15, 2022 NY Slip Op 04149 (App. Div. 2 Dept.; 6/29/22; Connolly, JP, Roman, Maltese, Christopher, JJ)