Wrongful homicide case settles for $26 million, raising concerns about violence in Georgia apartment complexes

A settlement has finally been reached in the years-long dispute over the Georgia apartment complex shooting that killed a young mother and her unborn child, the plaintiff’s attorney announced Tuesday.

The agreement provided for the full $26 million insured, after several years of disputes over insurance coverage that delayed litigation. The case came close to a specially scheduled trial in February before being settled. However, the names of the parties remain confidential.

In a lawsuit originally filed in a Georgia Superior Court, the plaintiffs — family members of the victims — asserted claims against the apartment complex for on-site liability, negligent security, and public and private harassment, which they say violated its policies and Procedures of the complex violated. The victims were killed by stray bullets fired at the property in a separate gunfight.

Atlanta law firm Beasley Allen issued a press release after the settlement, calling it a “hard-fought, tragic case that should never have happened.”

“The defendant apartment complex had a history of violent crime and was consistently warned of the dangers,” said Parker Miller of Beasley Allen. “There is no way we have settled this case unless the defendants did the right thing, which they ultimately did, but not before precious lives were lost and years of litigation ensued.”

Miller and Houston Kessler, along with Greg Stokes and Neil Kopitsky of Stokes & Kopitsky and Natanya Brooks, Meredith Watts and Morgyn Graber of Brooks Injury Law, represented the victims’ families in the case.

According to Beasley Allen, there were 16 testimonies totaling 2,300 pages over the course of the litigation. Several of them described the defendant housing complex as a dangerous area; The situation is “one of the worst in the area,” says the press release.

“The complex also received many calls reporting multiple shooting incidents,” the company said. “One witness compared the complex to a war environment and explained that he and his family had to duck under the kitchen table during dinner when shots rang out.”

The plaintiffs also accused the complex of being fully aware of its history of violence but failing to address it. Suggestions to hire a security guard or courtesy officer or to erect a fence around the facility were not considered.

“Unfortunately, that’s what happens when little or no action is taken to address known violent activity,” Brooks said in the release. “The defendants had every opportunity to do something to make a difference in this community, but they chose a different path. The victim’s family was so brave throughout the process as they had to endure this tremendous loss while fighting for justice. We are all so proud of her.”

One problem companies have posed in managing apartment complexes is that while many are privately owned, they also receive government funding, which can result in them raising the funds but neglecting the conditions of their communities.

“Owners and management became part of the problem by enabling such violent activity,” Miller added.

Violence in apartment complexes has recently become a growing concern for Georgians, raising questions about the duty of owners to mitigate potential security risks. Some firms, such as Atlanta’s Apolinsky & Associates, are vocalizing what they call negligent security in large apartment buildings.

In 2016, the owner of Creekside Forest Apartment Homes in DeKalb County paid $3 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of a 15-year-old boy.

That year, the FBI’s unified crime report ranked Atlanta among the top 25 homicide capitals in the nation, with data provided by 24/7 Wall Street.