Matt Boyer Authors Amicus Curiae Brief Before Georgia Supreme Court on Behalf of the Georgia Defense Lawyers Association

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Matt Boyer Authors Amicus Curiae Brief Before Georgia Supreme Court on Behalf of the Georgia Defense Lawyers Association

On August 26, 2019, Nall & Miller partner Matt Boyer authored an amicus curiae brief before the Georgia Supreme Court on behalf of the Georgia Defense Lawyers Association, opposing a Petition for Certiorari regarding the legal standard for evaluating premises liability claims involving third-party crime.

The primary issue addressed is whether evidence of criminal activity can be used to demonstrate a property owner’s actual or constructive knowledge of risk of harm to its invitees, when the property owner had no actual knowledge of such criminal activity. The case involves a murder that occurred in the parking lot of a gas station/convenience store. The plaintiff-petitioner filed suit against the property owner, as well as its lessee who operated the gas station/convenience store. After plaintiff-petitioner presented no evidence that the property owner had actual knowledge of any criminal activity on or around the premises, the trial court granted summary judgment to the property owner. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment. Plaintiff-petitioner seeks certiorari before the Georgia Supreme Court, contending that the property owner had an affirmative duty to review police reports for criminal activity on or around the premises and that such reports can be used to demonstrate that the property owner had constructive knowledge of such criminal activity.

On behalf of the GDLA, Mr. Boyer argued that certiorari should not be granted because that the trial court and Court of Appeals properly applied the legal standard for premises liability claims involving third-party crime. The brief argues it is well-established that, as threshold matter, a plaintiff must demonstrate that a property owner had actual knowledge of criminal activity on or around the premises before such criminal activity can be considered as evidence of the property owner’s actual or constructive knowledge of risk of harm to its invitees. Further, on behalf of the GDLA, Mr. Boyer argues that Sun Trust Banks, Inc. v. Killebrew, 266 Ga. 109, 464 S.E.2d 207 (1990) clearly established that a property owner does not have an affirmative duty to investigate police files to determine whether criminal activity has occurred on its premises.

Click here to download the brief.

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