In Maryland, a property owner generally is under no duty to protect another person from criminal acts of a third party that occur on the property. There are exceptions, however. In a July 2, 2021 wrongful death case, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals explained the kinds of circumstances that would be necessary to hold a property owner liable for crimes committed by a third party against a tenant leasing the premises.
The decedent in the case was killed during a robbery that took place at a retail store while he was working as the manager. The store was in a Maryland strip mall, where there was a long history of criminal activity on the parking lot, including a murder committed the month before. The decedent’s family brought wrongful death claims against the owner of the shopping center, alleging that it knew of the dangerous criminal activity and negligently failed to take security measures to protect the occupants of leased premises from foreseeable criminal acts of third persons committed inside those stores.
The circuit court dismissed the plaintiffs’ lawsuit, ruling that, as a matter of law, the shopping center did not owe a duty to protect the decedent from the criminal acts of third persons committed on a store’s leased premises. An appeal followed.