Decatur, GA—Jurors Wednesday found a North Georgia apartment's owners and managers only one percent responsible for the shooting death of one of its tenants, insulating the complex from the vast majority of the seven-figure award it calculated. Alexis v. Riverstone LLC, 14A55296E5.
The DeKalb County State Court jury awarded $4 million for the 2014 death of Kevin Pierre. However, the jury apportioned 99% to various non-parties, involved in the fight leading up the shooting, including 75% to the suspected shooter.
Jurors also refused to find the defendants acted in bad faith or with a concious indifference that could have exposed them to potential additional liability.
The jury’s verdict, rendered after more than two days of deliberations, means the owners and manager of Bradford Gwinnett Apartments & Townhomes will be liable for only $40,000.
Pierre, 22, who lived with his mother at the complex, was killed after a fight began on Norcross’ Beaver Springs Lane, a public road alongside the apartment. Pierre, who had not been involved in the fight, was shot in the back while in a common area of the complex near where the fight occurred.
Two men were ultimately indicted for their roles in the shooting, according to reports. They were not parties in the civil trial against the apartment's owners and managers.
The week-long trial focused on the role the apartment complex and crime in the area played in the shooting. Pierre’s parents contended the complex’s owners and managers, including Enterprise Community Asset Management and Riverstone Residential LLC, knew the area had a history of violent crime that spilled onto the complex property, but did nothing to prevent it.
During the trial’s openings last week, The Stoddard Firm’s Matthew Stoddard told jurors the complex ignored a market report recommending improvements to enhance security. “Instead of fixing the property, [the owners] chose to think of the property as cursed, and of resident safety as hopeless,” Stoddard said.
But the defense argued the suggested improvements were immaterial because the shooting came from a public road over which the complex had no authority. “This is about where crime happened on property,” Weinberg, Wheeler, Hudgins, Gunn & Dial’s Mark Johnson told jurors in last week’s openings. “When you’re talking about that issue, if you don’t own it, don’t maintain it, don’t have control over it, and don’t police it, you can’t be responsible for what happens on it.”
CVN will have more on the case as it becomes available and will publish gavel-to-gavel video of the trial as soon as possible.
The plaintiffs are represented by The Stoddard Firm’s Matthew Stoddard and Bondurant Mixson & Elmore’s Naveen Ramachandrappa and Michael Terry.
The defendants are represented by Weinberg, Wheeler, Hudgins, Gunn & Dial’s Mark Johnson and Jackson Dial.
CVN will record the trial gavel-to-gavel and publish video on demand as soon as possible.
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