Case Type: Criminal/Sexual Violence
On February 23, 2021, Attorneys at Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP filed a lawsuit against a Baltimore apartment complex and property management company in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland on behalf of Emily Doe, a former University of Maryland Medical School student, who was raped by a stranger after he gained access to her apartment through the faulty door of the building. The lawsuit alleges Defendants are guilty of Premises Liability for negligently failing to repair the known safety risk.
Emily Doe was represented in the matter by Christine Dunn and Steven J. Kelly, Partners in the Baltimore office of Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP and Co-Chairs of the Criminal/Sexual Violence Practice Group, and Clare J. Horan and Amee Vora, associates in the same office.
According to the complaint, Emily Doe was a 26-year-old medical student at the time. The complex was marketed specifically to students. Late one night, in May 2018, a strange man entered Emily Doe’s apartment, violently held her down, wrapped his arm around her neck and raped her, threatening throughout that he would kill her if she made a sound. The man was able to access the building through the malfunctioning door of the apartment building. The exterior door was supposed to be a secure, locked door, accessible only by entering a keypad code, but instead it did not close properly.
Prior to the rape, Emily Doe complained to building management that the faulty door posed a security risk. In fact, in an email sent to building residents, the building’s management acknowledged the safety risk posed by a door that was not properly closed. This was especially problematic in a neighborhood with known high crime rates. The faulty door was well known among residents and upon information and belief, other residents raised similar concerns with the building’s management. Despite the complaints, Defendants failed to repair the door—a repair that, according to the complaint, would have been a minimal cost.
“The sexual assault on Emily Doe was entirely preventable if the Defendants had fulfilled their duty to repair a known defective condition,” said Dunn. “The Defendants knew that the exterior door did not close properly but they turned a blind eye and did nothing about it, thereby putting their residents at serious risk.”
“Shockingly, when I visited the apartment building two years after the rape, the door had still not been repaired and I was able to open it easily,” said Kelly. “Even knowing that a rape had occurred in the building did not spur the Defendants to make the easy but necessary repair.”
Emily Doe endured physical injuries including bruises and lacerations as a result of the sexual assault and strangulation. In addition, Emily Doe has suffered and continues to suffer from mental anguish and emotional pain and suffering. The complaint seeks compensatory damages, non-economic damages and other damages, the exact amount to be determined at trial. The complaint also alleges that Emily Doe is entitled to punitive damages.