$1 Million Settlement Reached in Negligent Security Suit
Following the death of a North Charleston man who attempted to stop car thieves from stealing his vehicle from his driveway, Yarborough Applegate attorneys David Yarborough and Reynolds Blankenship, alongside Marvin R. Pendarvis of Peper Law Firm, recently reached a $1 million settlement for the decedent’s family based on a claim of negligent security.
The decedent lived in a gated community in North Charleston with only one point of vehicular ingress/egress. This was controlled by security guards during the day, and overnight by a security gate that required an access pass. After lightning struck the guardhouse in August 2017—rendering the security gate inoperable—the HOA made no effort to implement any stopgap security measures, such as paying the security company to provide overnight guards until the gate was fixed.
Late one Saturday night, two weeks after the gate was broken, a group of car thieves drove into the neighborhood and stole a car from the driveway of the decedent’s neighbor. The thieves also stole keys to the decedent’s car, which the decedent had left unlocked.
The next night, when the thieves returned to steal the decedent’s car, the decedent met them outside his house with a pistol. He fired warning shots in the air before pointing the pistol at one of the thieves and detaining him. While waiting for police to arrive, the thief pulled a gun from his waistband and shot the decedent in the head, killing him.
We successfully argued that the HOA and property manager had voluntarily undertaken a duty to provide security against unauthorized vehicle access and had failed to maintain that security after the gate broke. One of the car thieves in an affidavit explained that they never would have entered the neighborhood if someone had been manning the security guardhouse.
“This never would have happened if the HOA had done even the bare minimum to protect their residents,” Blankenship said. “They had agreed to provide security and failed to fulfill that commitment. Tragically, somebody’s loved one lost his life because of it.”