Articles Posted in Premises Liability

Our Atlanta negligent security lawyers noticed a recent story about the outcome of a murder trial related to a negligent security lawsuit.

A Georgia court found Nkosi Thandiwe guilty of shooting three women, killing one, sentencing him to life in prison without parole. The shooting occurred in Midtown in July 2011, taking the life of Brittney Watts, a Roswell resident. The two surviving victims were Lauren Garcia, who is paralyzed and will never walk again after the shooting, and Tiffany Ferenczy, who was shot in the leg. All three victims worked in the building attached to the parking garage at the Proscenium Building, where Thandiwe worked as a security guard – hired to protect the people he harmed and killed. The prosecutor in Thandiwe’s case, Linda Dunikoski, said, “He told you the reason he shot those people was because he adopted the racists’ attitudes and wanted to start a revolution through violence.” Thandiwe testified that he had gotten angry with his supervisor earlier in the day and almost pulled a gun on him, as well. At the trial, it came out that he had come to these beliefs about white people and how they treat blacks during his years in college at the University of West Georgia, where he studied anthropology. He testified that he felt Europeans were responsible for “a lot of evil”. His mother, Lynnae, also testified to her son’s mental breakdown in college. The prosecutor stated that Thandiwe grew up with two parents and a good home with the benefits of the “American dream.” The jury found him guilty and rejected Thandiwe’s insanity defense, after the defense provided insufficient proof or any medical history of insanity. 586px-Gun_outline.svg.png

The criminal trial is now over, but the survivors, Ms. Ferenczy and Ms. Garcia, as well as the widowed husband of Brittney Watts, all filed lawsuits last year against Allied Barton Security Services and the owner of the Proscenium Building due to negligence in employing Thandiwe. The cases were filed in Fulton County Superior Court. The lawsuits include accusations of racial motivation, which is borne out by the testimony at Thandiwe’s criminal trial. Allegedly, an incident occurred weeks before the fatal shooting in which Thandiwe was involved in a fight with a visitor to the building, and he assaulted this courier using racial slurs. News sources claim he had to be physically restrained by Allied Barton personnel from hitting and hurting visitor. He bought the gun, a Glock semi-automatic, two weeks before the July 2011 shooting.

Thirteen plaintiffs are suing Tenneco, Inc. over their plant in Hartwell, Georgia, in the Hart County Superior Court. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified punitive damages against the company for premises liability (, nuisance, and loss of consortium. This is an ongoing problem for Tenneco, and comes on the heels of their recently having to pay $100,000 in fines for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations within the last year and a half. In addition to Tenneco, three other companies- Compass Health and Safety, LTD, Atotech, and KCH Services, LLC- are also listed in this personal injury lawsuit. biohaz.jpeg

The allegations in the lawsuit against Tenneco, a company that manufactures vehicle replacement parts, come from the plaintiffs’ exposure to high levels of the chemical hexavalent chromium, which is used in the production of shock absorbers and struts for cars, for eight of the 13 plaintiffs. Those eight were employees at the Tenneco Hartwell plant. The lawsuit alleges that the four defendant companies failed to “exercise ordinary care of the premise” and failed to “maintain safety” of the work area.

The complaint alleges that all eight workers- Jonathon T. Vickery, Ricky Willis, Max McCollum, Roger Freeman, Charles R. Allen, Ralph Burdette, Hubert Leon Pierce, and Wesley Willimon- suffered health problems as a result of exposure to hexavalent chromium. They particularly highlight nasal and respiratory injuries. Studies have shown that long-term exposure to this chemical also increases the risk of cancer.

The Atlanta wrongful death attorneys at Sammons & Carpenter know that there are often different factors in a fatal car accident. This blog has discussed dram shop laws and liability for establishments serving alcohol before (see here), but these tragedies continue.

There was news of yet another settlement in a lawsuit of this nature for a company, Neighborhood Dining Group. Inc., based in Marietta, Georgia. The company owns the Charleston, SC fine-dining establishment, Husk; one of the area’s best restaurants. It has even been acclaimed as the “Best New Restaurant in America” by Bon Appétit magazine and as one of the best places to eat by Newsweek. However, it was also the restaurant where an assistant manager/sommelier, Adam Burnell, was drinking at work before leaving, something that many claim is endemic in restaurant worker culture. He left Husk at 4:00 AM with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit when he allegedly rammed his Audi into the back of Quentin Miller’s Mustang. The impact slammed Mr. Miller’s car into a concrete wall and caused the car to erupt in flames, trapping Mr. Miller inside. He died at the scene, and now Mr. Burnell is charged with felony driving under the influence.

Once again, the story does not end there. Mr. Miller’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Husk and its owners, without even naming Mr. Burnell as a defendant. The family alleged that Husk allowed Mr. Burnell to drink on their premises after hours and then to drive drunk. Neighborhood Dining told reporters that its insurer agreed last month to pay a $1.1 million settlement to the Miller family, while still denying fault or liability for the accident. The president of the company, David Howard, stated that policies already prohibit employee drinking on restaurant premises in Charleston and Atlanta. He said, “I’ve had a policy in place since 1991. No consumption of alcohol is to be allowed. I don’t believe that staff should consume alcohol in the workplace, period. The policy states that at (our) restaurants you cannot drink in the workplace. Other statements have been made to the contrary, but that is a clear policy.”wine.jpg