Georgia Verdicts

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Defense: Apartment complex security was adequate

Type:

Verdict-Defendant

State:

Georgia

Venue:

Cobb County

Court:

Cobb County, State Court

Injury Type(s):

other-death; other-gunshot wound

Case Type:

Wrongful Death; Premises Liability – Housing Complex, Tenant’s Injury, Inadequate or Negligent Security

Case Name:

Bintou Cham, as surviving spouse of Franklin Callens, and Aeysha Harris as Administrator of the estate of Franklin Callens, deceased v. ECI Management Corp. and Cobb-Six Flags Associates, LTD,
No. 16A-1608-6

Date:

June 25, 2018

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Bintou Cham , 

Aeysha Harris , 

Estate of Franklin Callens (Male, 27 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

R. Scott Campbell;
Shiver Hamilton, LLC;
Atlanta,
GA,
for
Bintou Cham, Aeysha Harris, Estate of Franklin Callens ■ Daniel C. Beer;
Shiver Hamilton, LLC;
Atlanta,
GA,
for
Bintou Cham, Aeysha Harris, Estate of Franklin Callens ■ Brandon Smith;
Shiver Hamilton, LLC;
Atlanta,
GA,
for
Bintou Cham, Aeysha Harris, Estate of Franklin Callens

Plaintiff Expert(s):

John Villines; Security/Premises Liability; Cleveland,
GA called by:
R. Scott Campbell, Daniel C. Beer, Brandon Smith

Defendant(s):

ECI Management Corp., 

Cobb-Six Flags Associates Ltd.

Defense Attorney(s):

John E. Hall Jr.;
Hall Booth Smith, P.C.;
Atlanta,
GA,
for
ECI Management Corp., Cobb-Six Flags Associates Ltd. ■ Jeffery R. Saxby;
Hall Booth Smith, P.C.;
Atlanta,
GA,
for
ECI Management Corp., Cobb-Six Flags Associates Ltd. ■ Paul Trainor;
Hall Booth Smith, P.C.;
Atlanta,
GA,
for
ECI Management Corp., Cobb-Six Flags Associates Ltd.

Defendant Expert(s):

Karim Vellani;
Security/Premises Liability;
Houston,
TX called by:
John E. Hall Jr., Jeffery R. Saxby, Paul Trainor

Facts:

On the morning of Dec. 13, 2015, plaintiff’s decedent Franklin Callens, 27, who lived at the Concept 21 Apartments on Six Flags Drive in Cobb County, was shot in the complex’s parking lot during an apparent carjacking. He died as a result of his injuries. Two teens were arrested and charged with Callens’ murder. They were still awaiting trial at the time of publication. Bintou Cham, as surviving spouse of Franklin Callens, and Callens’ mother, Aeysha Harris, as administrator of the estate of Franklin Callens, sued the owner/manager of the apartments, ECI Management Corp. and Cobb-Six Flags Associates, LTD, for negligence, inadequate security and wrongful death. The estate alleged that the complex located at 300 Six Flags Drive in Austell was in a high-crime area, where numerous robberies, including car thefts, had occurred. The estate asserted that ECI Management Corp. and Cobb-Six Flags Associates, LTD were aware of the high crime rate in the area, but failed to provide adequate security. Although ECI and Cobb-Six Flags had hired a security company in 2007 to patrol the premises, the estate maintained that the security patrol was only hired to work for four hours a day. Also, the estate claimed that ECI and Cobb-Six Flags hired off-duty police officers to patrol the premises in 2013, but the hours of the security company were reduced and, by the end of 2014, the security company had been terminated altogether. The estate alleged that ECI and Cobb-Six Flags then determined that the off-duty officers would be on the premises for 32 hours a week, but there was no set schedule as to the days and times security would be present. The estate alleged the hours were inadequate given the high-crime on the premises and surrounding area. The estate further alleged the off-duty officers continuously requested that ECI and Cobb-Six Flags increase the number of patrol hours, but they failed to do so. The estate additionally alleged the residents of the complex, including Callens, felt unsafe and had requested increases in security, but those requests were not met. The estate alleged that Callens was shot in the unpatrolled, unsecured complex parking lot. The estate’s security expert opined that ECI and Cobb-Six Flags failed to appropriately anticipate the risk of violent crime, evaluate it and take the necessary steps to reduce or eliminate the risk. ECI and Cobb-Six Flags denied negligence, arguing that the off-duty police officers hired to patrol the premises were an adequate safety and security measure. The defense argued that the officers were normally on patrol during the period between 6:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m., when most of the past crime had occurred. The defense’s security expert opined that the security measures were standard and adequate and it was not foreseeable that Callens would be shot at 9:00 a.m. on a Sunday. He further disputed the opinions of the estate’s security experts and asserted that suggestions regarding security were nonbinding.

Injury:

Callens died as a result of gunshot wounds. His wife and mother sought compensatory damages against ECI and Cobb-Six Flags as a result of Callens’ death. The estate’s counsel suggested the jury award $21 million in damages to Callens’ wife and $2.1 million to his mother.

Result:

The jury rendered a defense verdict.

Trial Information:

Judge:

Alfred Harris Adams

Demand:

$2,000,000

Offer:

$250,000

Trial Length:

7
 days

Trial Deliberations:

2
 hours

Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by defense counsel. Additional information was gleaned from court documents. Plaintiffs’ counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls.