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Georgia Supreme Court Issues Ruling In Negligent Security Cases


The Georgia Supreme Court recently issued a ruling in two consolidated negligent security cases. The cases examined the extent to which a premises owner could be held liable when a third party commits a criminal offense on their premises. The decision heralded a win for plaintiffs and was critical for maintaining the right to hold defendants accountable when they take safety risks with their customers. Below, we will discuss the two cases and the court’s decision.

Georgia CVS Pharmacy, LLC v. Carmichael 

In this lawsuit, the plaintiff was shot during an armed robbery in the parking lot of a CVS drugstore. The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against CVS alleging that the store had failed to implement adequate security measures to safeguard customers from potential violence. In this case, the customer argued that CVS failed to have security guards on hand or adequate lighting in the parking lot.

During the trial, current and former employees of the CVS store testified concerning the lax security conditions on the premises. The employees testified that the store was located in a high-crime area and had repeatedly expressed concerns about the safety of the parking lot. Male employees would routinely escort female employees to their cars and employees preferred to park close to the building due to inadequate lighting in the parking lot. The employees testified that they were not surprised to learn of the shooting.

One supervisor testified that CVS had paid for security guards on the premises but eventually got rid of them over employee objections. This was likely an effort to save money. Unsurprisingly, three violent crimes occurred on the property after CVS got rid of the security guards.

Welch v. Pappas Restaurants, Inc. 

In this case, a man was killed during an armed robbery in the parking lot of Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen in Marietta. Security footage showed the assailants entering the parking lot and loitering near their vehicle before the attack. A security guard in a marked vehicle with flashing lights patrolled the area shortly before the shooting occurred. The victim’s widow filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the restaurant and the security company. The trial court denied the defendants’ motion to summarily dismiss the case but an appeals court overturned the ruling arguing that the shooting was not reasonably foreseeable.

Foreseeability in negligent security claims 

To prove negligence in a negligent security lawsuit, a plaintiff must establish that the violent act was foreseeable by the defendant and the defendant failed to safeguard customers against the attack. In these cases, both proprietors argued that the violent crimes were not foreseeable and thus they were not liable. In the CVS case, employees had expressed concern over the dangerous conditions on the premises and CVS had hired security guards to patrol the area but eventually decided it wasn’t worth the cost. This resulted in one customer being shot on the property. In Welch, the plaintiff argued that numerous police reports indicated a propensity for violent crimes in the area, and hence, the restaurant should have known that their customers were unsafe.

Talk to a Negligent Security Attorney Today 

If you have been injured on the property of a store or restaurant, you may be able to file a negligent security lawsuit against the establishment to recover damages related to your injuries. Call the personal injury lawyers at Gillette Law today to learn more.


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