Even With a Breach of Duty Proximate Cause Must Be Established

In a recent case from the 4th District Court of Appeal, proximate cause was addressed in a negligent security case.The ruling from ERP Operating Limited Partnership v. Sanders, So.3rd, 37 FLW D1709 (Fla. 4th DCA 7-18-2012) arose from a premises liability wrongful death case arising from a double murder in an apartment complex. Although the evidence supported that the apartment complex breached their duty to provide adequate security, the Plaintiff could not establish that the breach was the proximate cause of the murders. Proximate cause could not be established because the victims were murdered inside their apartment and there was no sign of forced entry.

The 4th DCA noted that the plaintiff’s expert acknowledged that it was unknown what happened the night of the murders. The court further held that without proof of how the assailants gained entry to the apartment, the plaintiff simply could not prove that the deaths resulted from the breach of the apartment complex security obligation. Thus, while a breach of duty was established, the plaintiff is required to prove that the breach was the proximate cause of the personal injury.