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Court analyzes landlord's responsibility for crime on premises

In a 20-page unanimous opinion, a panel of the Court of Appeals completely a thorough analysis of the existing rules regarding a landlord's liability for criminal acts of third parties.  It started with the clear expression of previously-adjudicated Supreme Court policy:  "public safety is the business of government and not private property owners." On the basis of this arguable statement of policy, the Court concluded that a landowner--whether merchant or apartment owner--owes no duty under Michigan Supreme Court rulings, to "make the property [be it a parking lot or whatever] safer than the adjacent street.  The landowner's only remaining duty, after Engler Majority analysis, is to promptly call police when there is foreseeable danger to an invitee. 

On the basis of this statement of law, the court dismissed claims against a security company hired to protect residents of an apartment building, even though officers of the company failed to respond to a gun-wielding intruder who ultimately shot and paralyzed Devon Scott Bailey.  The Court ruled that the security company owed no common law duty to guests of the apartments' residents. It kept alive, however, the claim against the landowner, since its agents did not respond to an active, criminal threat, in a timely manner.  The case is Devon Scott Bailey v. Steven Gerom Schaff, et al., from Genessee County.

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