Plaintiff was shot in an attempted carjacking in an ungated portion of the common area of an apartment complex and rendered quadriplegic. The incident occurred at about 11:30 p.m. when he was driving about the apartment complex looking for an open parking space. He eventually parked his vehicle near the leasing office which was beyond the gated confines of the complex.
The trial excluded plaintiff’s evidence of prior similar criminal activity which consisted of 10 incidents which plaintiff’s expert argued placed the owner and property manager on notice of violent incidents including three very similar violent incidents defined as sudden attacks, late at night at the ungated portion of the premises.
Prior violent criminal acts lessen degree of foreseeability required by landlord in premises liability case. In reversing the trial court’s decision, the Appellate court noted that perfect identity of prior crimes to the attack on plaintiff is not necessary, rather, under the sliding scale balancing formula, and given the minimal burden placed on the landlord in the subject case, “the three prior incidents cited are sufficiently similar to make the assault on plaintiff foreseeable and to place a duty of care on defendants.”