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The Cost of Negligence: A $3 Million Settlement and a Call for Improved Security in Florida’s Apartment Complexes

View of Boca Club Apartments in Orlando, Florida, surrounded by lush grash.

The tragic death of a 15-year-old boy in 2018 has led to a $3 million settlement for his parents from the Orlando apartment complex where the incident occurred. The settlement, however, did not include an admission of liability, sparking a debate over the responsibility of apartment complexes to ensure the safety of their residents.

The Incident and the Lawsuit

Wilvens Idoris, a resident of Boca Club Apartments, was found with a fatal gunshot wound between two of the complex’s buildings on July 1, 2018. Despite an immediate investigation by the Orlando Police Department, no arrests have been made in connection with Idoris’ death. This unsolved case led to a lawsuit filed by the victim’s parents against the apartment complex and its associated companies.

The lawsuit alleged that Boca Club Apartments failed to meet its duty to protect its residents through necessary security measures like surveillance cameras and security guards. Moreover, the complaint accused the apartment complex staff of being aware of the complex’s history of crime but failing to warn its residents or improve security. The settlement, while substantial, did not include an admission of liability from the complex.

Liability and Duty of Care in Apartment Complexes

This case raises important questions about the responsibility of apartment complexes to ensure the safety of their residents. Before a recent law change, apartment complexes in Florida had a duty to protect their inhabitants from crime through reasonable security measures, and a jury could not split fault between the complex and a third party in a trial. However, this has changed with the new tort reform bill signed on March 24 by Governor Ron DeSantis.

The New Tort Reform Bill

The new law, aimed at reducing “frivolous lawsuits” and preventing “predatory practices of trial attorneys,” introduces significant changes. It shields insurance agencies and large businesses, including apartment complexes, from lawsuits. Under this law, complexes are presumed not liable for negligence in security matters as long as they have certain measures in place. These measures include deadbolt locks on the front doors of units; a surveillance camera at points of entry and exits; a gate around the pool, and lighted common areas and parking lots. Additionally, apartment complexes can now defer liability to criminals who inflict harm on their property.

Critics of the new law argue that it protects the owners of multi-family housing at the expense of residents, especially those in high-crime areas. Pedro Echarte, the attorney representing Idoris’ parents, stated, “So despite the need for more security, which was obvious at [Boca Club], they don’t have to have those to take advantage of the [new] law. This will make our communities more dangerous”.

A Call to Action

The case of Wilvens Idoris and the subsequent settlement highlights the importance of stringent security measures in residential complexes. While the new law provides some protection to property owners, it also underscores the need for a balance that ensures the safety and well-being of residents. It is a call to action for all stakeholders in the housing industry to prioritize security and continually evaluate and improve their safety protocols.

The tragic loss of a young life cannot be undone, but it can serve as a potent reminder of the need for vigilance and the constant pursuit of safety measures. It’s an urgent call to prevent future tragedies and make our communities safer places to live.

If you are an apartment owner and need advice on risk mitigation, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at BDI. We are here to help you navigate these complex issues, provide expert advice and ensure that you are in compliance with all relevant legislation. We understand that the safety of your residents and the security of your property are of utmost importance. Together, we can work towards a safer, more secure future.

#CallToAction #SafetyFirst #ApartmentSecurity #RiskMitigation #BDI


[Please note: This article is based on available information as of May 2023.]