Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability lawsuit discussing whether an apartment complex could be held liable for the death of a resident. Ultimately, the court concluded that the apartment complex’s failure to install balcony railings of sufficient height was not excused based on the complex’s “grandfather” status under the local building codes.
According to the court’s opinion, a man lived on a third-floor apartment in the defendant apartment complex with his wife and child. One day, the man was outside of a first-floor apartment drinking beers with some fellow residents. The man’s wife went to bed at 10:00 that evening, and at one point in the evening, the man returned to the apartment to get a shirt. However, the next morning, the man was found dead, 18 feet below the rear balcony of his apartment.
Evidently, when police officers arrived on the scene, they noticed that the rear balcony railing was “shorter than normal” and measured only 29 inches tall. Law enforcement determined that the man fell to his death and that no foul play was involved. The man’s blood-alcohol content was .265.