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MARY MEAUX — Could apartment management be responsible for violent crimes?

Should an apartment complex be held accountable for violent crimes committed on the property?

In May, a Houston area family opted to sue their apartment complex for negligence after their 3-year-old daughter was shot in the head.

The family enlisted the help of Mo Aziz, a partner with Abraham Watkins Law Firm, who said if the complex is going to benefit from taking the family’s rent, it should provide them with a safe home.

Aziz filed suit against The Palms at Cypress Station apartment complex in North Houston on behalf of 3-year-old Helena Lane and her family after Helena was hit by a stray bullet resulting from gun violence in late April of 2021, according to a press release from the attorney.

The incident took place in an apartment complex with a long history of violence and crime of this nature. In the three years prior to the incident, there were close to 2,500 911 calls made to the police regarding incidents at The Palms at Cypress Station Apartment Complex, the attorney contends. An alleged lack of basic security and resident background checks has led to over 130 incidents in the past three years alone, including 41 assaults, 33 violent crimes with a deathly weapon, and 85 police calls for gunfire. On average the police are called two to three times a day by someone at the complex, the attorney contends

Commenting on the lawsuit, Attorney Mo Aziz said, “Apartment complexes, condominiums and apartment buildings have a duty to keep their residents and guests of residents safe, particularly when danger is foreseeable or predictable.”

Could a similar lawsuit be filed and be successful in Jefferson County, specifically in Port Arthur where violent crimes and even death has occurred on an almost annual basis at several of the city’s apartment complexes?

I’m not saying victims or families of victims should run out and seek an attorney’s services but the case in Houston may set a precedent for other possible cases should it be successful.

I don’t know if the Houston area apartments where the child was shot have some sort of security or police presence but would that matter to the criminal?

One set of Port Arthur apartments did have a police presence and still had some crimes occur, though not deadly if I remember correctly.

But is apartment management responsible for the safety of the tenants from criminal acts? There are gated communities but what about the tenants who willingly or not, allow criminals a way inside? Does the responsibility shift to the tenants?

There’s a lot to think of in this situation. Either way, let’s hope the violence comes to an end.

Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at mary.meaux@panews.com.