Wrongful Death Shootings and Apportionment Law
Georgia passed a law allowing juries to apportion the amount of blame to all responsible parties, including the plaintiff, in 2005. As of 2017, there have been approximately seven appellate decisions touching on various aspects of the legislation.
What do juries really do when apportioning liability to a shooter or a negligent actor?
Heinz Fojutowski was shot in the stomach, which resulted in $500,000 in medical bills and a permanent disability, at a high crime motel after the night clerk would not allow him in. The motel had a good amount of prior crime and very little in the way in security. The jury apportioned 66% to the shooter and therefore the motel was liable for 33% of the verdict.
In a 2017 appellate case involving Camelot Club Condominiums in Clayton County, the jury apportioned blame as follows; the shooter 50% responsible, the condo 25% and the security team 25% for the $3.2 million dollar verdict. In an interesting twist, the parties were arguing over whether the condo was responsible for the full 50% (including the 25% on the security company) because security is a non-delegable duty under the law. In other words, they cannot outsource their legal duty and have to pay the full share. Why does it matter? Because it is likely the security team does not have enough insurance to cover their share.