Under certain circumstances, a person may have a duty to protect another individual from the criminal acts of a third party. An appeals court examined the relationship needed to establish this type of liability in a November 23, 2020, Maryland wrongful death case.
The plaintiff in the case was the wife and personal representative of the estate of her husband. The plaintiff and her late husband worked for the defendants at a non-denominational church facility, where religious groups held retreats and services. A man was brought to the facility by his mother to stay for about a month. His mother had warned the pastor of her son’s mental issues and violent behavior towards her and based on his demeanor. The plaintiff also expressed concerns to the pastor that he shouldn’t stay at the facility. One evening, the assailant sat next to the plaintiff and her late husband at a prayer service. After a few minutes, he began stabbing the plaintiff and her husband, who later died from the injuries he sustained.
The plaintiff filed suit against the facility and its owners, alleging that they were negligent in failing to provide proper safety measures on the premises, failing to supervise guests, and failing to ensure that the invitees of the retreat did not present any danger to others. After the circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, the plaintiff appealed.