The family of Botham Jean, the young man who was shot and killed in his own apartment by former Dallas Police Department Officer Amber Guyger two years ago, filed a wrongful death lawsuit this week against the apartment complex where the murder took place. On September 6, 2018, Jean was sitting the living room of his apartment watching a football game, when Guyger walked through his front door and fired two shots at him. Guyger was convicted of murder last year and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
According to the lawsuit filed in Dallas County, Texas, Jean’s death “occurred as a direct result of the faulty, poorly maintained door and locking mechanism and the confusion with the layout of the Southside Flats.” The lawsuit claims that Guyger, who was also a resident at the same apartments, was able to enter Jean’s apartment because either Jean’s door didn’t close properly “as it was designed to do” or that Guyger’s key worked on the wrong door. “Either circumstance created an unreasonably dangerous condition that allowed someone access to an apartment that was not theirs,” the suit says. The lawsuit explains that multiple residents interviewed by the Texas Rangers stated that they had either parked on the wrong floor, put the wrong key fob in the wrong lock, or went to the wrong apartment on accident. One resident, who did not know Guyger or Jean, said he had parked on the wrong floor as many as a dozen times. Another resident said she had unintentionally parked on the wrong floor multiple times and complained to management about a faulty key fob. She also said a stranger once entered her apartment with his own key fob. According to the suit, Southside Flats and its management knew about these problems and did nothing to fix them.
Under Texas law, the owner of a property has a duty to keep the premises under the owner’s control in a safe condition for tenants and guests. Further, the owner has a duty to provide adequate notice or warnings to tenants and guests of any dangerous condition the owner is aware of. When a guest or tenant is injured or killed as a result of the owner’s failure to abide by these legal duties, the owner may be held liable.
At all times necessary, Southside Flats Apartments had a duty to keep and maintain the premises in a safe condition for it’s tenant, Botham Jean. Their failure to do so resulted in his death. Botham Jean’s family seeks monetary relief in excess of $1 million for the wrongful and preventable death of their loved one.
If you or someone you know has been injured at an apartment complex, contact the experienced attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner at (713) 222-7211 or toll free at 713-222-7211.