Building owners may be in legal crosshairs for shootings

Dealing with tragic mass shootings has been difficult. These shootings have also placed owners and managers of commercial buildings into legal jeopardy as they are being sued for premises liability for active-shooter incidents that occurred on their properties.

The Institute for Real Estate Management found that 45 percent of the 280 active shooter incidents in this country took place on commercial properties between 2000 and 2017. Lawsuits concerning these shootings have been filed. Juries may find that landlords and owners may be partially liable if they do not have a plan or did not offer training on active shooter events, according to new research.

Lawsuits were filed after some of the most notorious mass shootings. These included shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, at a video game competition in Jacksonville, Florida, and a concert outside the Mandalay Hotel in Las Vegas.

In most cases, juries have not been convinced that property owners were liable. But, property owners may face liability in the future as more lawsuits are filed and the public's expectations about the responsibilities of property owners grows.

Currently, juries may hold property owners responsible if they did not have a safety plan in case of a shooting. Owners may be found negligent if they do not have a policy on what to do if a weapon was brought onto the property.

Property owners may also be held liable, according to one attorney, if the mass shooting on their property was foreseeable. Examples include a building owner who was aware of problems or threats from an employee, an unsatisfied customer or an angry spouse.

Inadequate security and lack of training and procedure may be grounds for a lawsuit if a victim suffers injuries from a crime. An attorney can help victims pursue their rights to compensation.

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