Missouri Liability for third party criminal acts

Posted By Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney || 8-Oct-2011

Missouri personal injury premise liability for criminal acts arises when there is (1) a "special relationship or circumstances" between the landowner and the personal injury victim, (2) personal injury resulting from a criminal act of a 3rd party, and (3) causation, i.e. the criminal act would have likely been prevented with proper security. At the end of this article are several examples of St Louis personal injury 3rd party criminal act cases.

(1) Special Relationship or Circumstances:

As stated above, for a Missouri personal injury claim based on landowner liability for the criminal act of another, there must be a special relationship or circumstances between the landowner and the victim. The special circumstances or relationship are decided by the court, not the jury, and are based on the facts and circumstances of each case.

Examples of how a special relationship established between apartment owner and tenant or guest for a Missouri personal injury claim for injuries arising from third party criminal act:

(A) Landlord made contractual or other representations or assurances to the tenant concerning security;
(B) Landlord had notice of potential danger because there have been previous instances of crimes of similar character on the premises;
(C) Landlord exposed the tenant to an enhanced risk of crime, and the landlord had notice of the risk due to the past instances of crime;
(D) Landlord retained the right to exclusive control of the security mechanism (i.e. outer security doors, window locks, other reasonable and ordinary security measures.)
(E) Landlord was negligent in maintaining the door and lock through which Plaintiff's assailants gained access to her residence.

Missouri injury cases discussing special relationship or circumstances:

Stubbs v. Panek, 829 S.W.2d 544 (Mo Ct App. W.D. 1992)
Missouri personal injury case for third party criminal act involving a landlord/tenant relationship. A duty existed as the landlord retained the right to control the security door and was notified of its need for repair.

Brown v National Supermarkets Inc., 679 S.W.2d 307 (Mo. Ct App. E.D. 1984)
St Louis personal injury lawsuit for third party criminal act and injury occurring in business parking lot.

Vittengal v. Fox, 967 S.W.2d 269 (Mo App W.D. 1998)
Missouri personal injury claim from third party criminal act, in this case the court of appeals decided no special relationship was established based on the facts of the case and landowner was not liable for assault. I agree with this case finding, the landowner simply could not be expected to prevent this criminal act, under the facts of the case the Missouri personal injury lawyer simply could not plead facts proving there was faulty security or other negligence by the landlord.

Aaron v Havens, 758 S.W.2d 446 (Mo 1998)
St Louis personal injury case wherein the court found a special relationship because the fire escape allowed a criminal to climb up to a window and balcony doors, both which had faulty latches and locks. There was evidence that the landlord had knowledge of these conditions and failed to act.

Categories: Personal Injury