Are Community Associations Liable For Third-Party Crimes?

After two residents of a Massachusetts condo building were killed in their penthouse home by an intruder, their estates sued the association and the management company for wrongful death. The civil case has yet to go to trial, but a pre-trial ruling from the court is cause for alarm for both condo associations and managers when it comes to their security responsibilities. It could indicate a worrisome trend among courts that expands liability.

The tragedy occurred in a 144-unit, 11-floor building with a three-level parking garage. A fob was necessary to open the lobby’s entry doors, or a concierge could buzz people in. The concierge desk had a computer screen with the feeds of 14 CCTV cameras. Only one camera was in the garage, pointing toward the two-vehicle garage doors.

The service elevator could be accessed from level P-1 of the garage, without a fob. A fob was required to send the elevator to a residential floor, but a person without a fob could wait in the elevator until it was summoned to a residential floor. The person could exit at that floor and use the unlocked stairwells to access other floors. The association was aware of these circumstances.

In May 2017, a former employee of the previous concierge company accessed the penthouse unit via the parking garage, service elevator, and a stairwell, without being observed on the CCTV monitor. He subsequently killed Richard Field and Lina Bolanos, the two physicians who lived in the penthouse. They had called 911 and texted a friend for help, but to no avail.

Read our new article to learn why the court ruled the way it did and find out what the implications are for this kind of case in other states. You’ll also hear from two association experts who provide recommendations on what your association clients can do to avoid liability for third-party crimes.

Read the full article now: Manager, Condo Association Have Duty to Protect Residents in Common Areas

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey

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