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I am a Georgia lawyer who handles Savannah failure to provide security
lawsuits, as well as suits around the state. I have been blogging about
premises liability law in Georgia. I have talked about the fact that in
order to hold a property owner or manager liable for a criminal attack,
a plaintiff must show that the owner or manager could foresee that a criminal
attack would occur on the property.

If less serious crimes have occurred on the property, then under Georgia
law those crimes may give a property owner or manager reason to foresee
that a more serious crime may occur

Several times I have quoted from Walker v. Aderhold Props., 303 Ga. App.
710, 714 (Ga. Ct. App. 2010), a premises liability case filed in Fulton
County court. In that case, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that less
serious crimes could give a defendant reason to foresee a very violent
crime. The court noted that a number of crimes had occurred on the property
where Walker had been attacked: burglaries; “a transient arrested
on the property for breaking into a car physically assaulted the security
guard”; a “resident was physically attacked in the parking
lot near the front gate by a man wielding a knife”. The court concluded
in the Walker that it would: “def[y] logic and common sense to argue
that these incidents are not sufficient, as a matter of law, to attract
the landlord’s attention to the dangerous conditions here.”
Id. at 714. See also
Woodall v. Rivermont Apartments Ltd. Partnership, 239 Ga.App. 36, 520 S.E.2d 741 (1999) (“In Lau’s Corp. v.
Haskins, 261 Ga. 491, 493(1), 405 S.E.2d 474 (1991), the Supreme Court
held that an issue of fact regarding the proprietor’s duty was created
by, among other things, evidence that the premises were in a ‘high
crime’ area.”).

Evidence of crimes that have occurred in the area – even if not on
the property itself – can give a property owner reason to foresee
a violent crime

In determining foreseeability, “under Lau’s Corp., supra 261
Ga. at 493, 405 S.E.2d 474, evidence of criminal activity in the area
in which the hotel is located may be considered.”
Matt v. Days Inns of America, 212 Ga. App. 792, 443 S.E.2d 290, cert. granted (1994). In the Matt case,
the plaintiff was a criminal attack at the Atlanta airport Days Inn. See also
Agnes Scott College v. Clark, 273 Ga. App. 619, 616 S.E.2d 468 (2005), cert. denied (2005) (“criminal
activities occurring on or near the premises”).

The Agnes Scott case involved a kidnapping from a parking lot on an Atlanta
college campus. The plaintiff had been kidnapped from the parking lot
and taken off campus, where she had been raped. The college argued that
there was: “no evidence of any kidnappings, rapes, attacks, or other
similar crimes occurring in the parking lot prior to the incident involving
the student.” The Court approved a summary judgment in favor of
the college, finding there was no: “evidence of similar occurrences
or other evidence that would have made the attack on Clark foreseeable.”


Lee’s peers have named her a Georgia SuperLawyer every year for two decades.