The family of a man who was shot and killed outside of his Fort Lauderdale condominium complex reached a $1 million policy limit settlement after lawyers demonstrated how negligent security practices at the development led to the man’s death.
Jeffrey Brown, 31, was shot several times outside the Circle One Condominium Complex on Father’s Day last year after spending a day at the beach with two of his three young children. The homicide remains under investigation and no arrests have been made in the case.
A lawyer representing Mr. Brown’s family said that the Circle One complex was neglected and left “in shambles” by its owner Benchmark Property Management Inc. The poor condition of the property turned it into a breeding ground for crime that continues to endanger the lives of those who live there.
“The place is just in shambles. There’s trash all over. You can tell it’s been completely neglected by the owners,” one of the lawyers handling the case told Law.com. “There are three decoy cameras that have been in the same position for over a decade that do not record anything, and there’s just been a litany of crimes that have run rampant in this community.”
Those crimes, listed in thousands of crime reports associated with the property, included incidents of people being pistol-whipped, robbed, shot, burglarized, kidnapped, and threatened at gunpoint, according to Law.com.
There is a guardhouse at the entrance but it had been abandoned, and there is no guard gate to secure the property, just a mechanism where one used to be.
According to Law.com, Circle One fired its security staff two years before Mr. Brown was murdered despite all the problems and the risks posed to residents.
Depositions of the property owners and representatives revealed even more about the negligent security practices at the complex. A representative told the plaintiff’s lawyer that he wouldn’t recommend the Circle One complex to friends and family.
As for security, the representative said that two maintenance workers acted as “boots on the ground,” whom residents could call about any concerns.
The owner of the property said in a deposition that he had never been to the complex after dark, even though he owned the property for more than 10 years.
The lawyer representing Mr. Brown’s family told Law.com that he grew up with Mr. Brown and the mother of his children. The history and friendship he shared with the victim made the case deeply personal to him.
“I wanted to show Circle One that his life mattered,” he told Law.com. “You can’t just allow things like this to happen and think that it’s OK that someone like this can die because of their complete negligence, yet no one has to be held accountable.”
The Circle Property Owners’ Association Inc., also named as a defendant in the case, has not reached a settlement. A trial is scheduled to start in February 2021.
Negligent security lawyers
Negligent security cases normally take the form of shootings, fights, stabbings, or other physical violence (including sexual assault) where severe injury or death occurs due to the establishment owner’s failure to take reasonable safety measures. When this occurs, the establishment owner, as well as those contractors charged with security, may be held responsible for the injuries suffered by individuals or groups of individuals on the premises. For more information about these types of cases, contact Parker Miller or Donovan Potter, lawyers in our Atlanta office who handle claims similar to the one described in this report.