Couch v. Red Roof Inns, Inc.Annotate this Case
In this premises liability action, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia certified two questions to the state Supreme Court: (1) In a premises liability case in which the jury determines a defendant property owner negligently failed to prevent a foreseeable criminal attack, is the jury allowed to consider the "fault" of the criminal assailant and apportion its award of damages among the property owner and the criminal assailant, pursuant to OCGA section 51-12-33?; and (2) would jury instructions or a special verdict form requiring the jury to apportion its award of damages among the property owner and the criminal assailant result in a violation of the plaintiff's constitutional rights to a jury trial, due process or equal protection? The plaintiff in this case suffered a violent attack by unknown criminal assailants while staying in a hotel and subsequently brought suit against the owner of the hotel for failing to keep the premises safe. Upon review, the Supreme Court found: (1) the jury is allowed to apportion damages among the property owner and the criminal assailant and (2) instructions or a special verdict form requiring such apportionment would not violate the plaintiff’s constitutional rights.