Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) August 11, 2015 - The Florida Supreme Court recently upheld a $4.5 million verdict in a wrongful death lawsuit based on premises liability.
The state high court upheld the verdict for the families of two siblings who were shot to death in their apartment, finding the building owner liable for negligence for failure to repair a security gate.
“The death of a loved one is even more tragic when it could have been prevented,” said Robert Joyce, a Tampa wrongful death attorney with the law firm of Joyce & Reyes, who was not involved in the case. “When a death is caused by another's negligence, the victim's family has the right to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.”
Ciara Sanders, 20, and her 17-year-old brother shared a third-floor apartment in Plantation, Florida, where they were shot and killed by unknown assailants in 2005. Ciara's baby was also present in the apartment but was unharmed.
Because there was no sign of forced entry, the building owner argued that the Sanders siblings knew their killer, and the broken security gate was irrelevant. But in 2009 a jury returned a verdict for the family of $4.5 million.
The Court of Appeals reversed the award, finding that without proof of how the killers gained entry to the apartment, the family could not prove that the shooting could have been prevented by better security. However, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the jury's original verdict, stating that the family's evidence properly raised the question of fact as to whether the security failure caused the death of the victims, and the jury could reasonably determine that it did.
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