On July 1, 2019, the Landowners Protection Act (the “Act”) became effective in Mississippi. The Act modified existing law as to premises liability for failure to protect against the criminal acts of third-parties in two respects. First, a new Code section was enacted, granting property owners several protections from such claims. Second, Mississippi’s joint and several liability statute was amended to allow for apportionment of fault between premises owners and intentional tortfeasors, i.e., criminal actors.
In the debate leading to the Act’s passage, proponents of the legislation provided that it was intended to codify prior court rulings and ensure that juries could apportion liability between criminal actors and landowners. Opponents argued that the Act would make it nearly impossible to establish liability against a premises owner. A key opposition point was the new requirement that a plaintiff proves the property owner “actively and affirmatively, with a degree of conscious decision-making, impelled the conduct of said third party.” Subsequent to July 1, 2019, reported actions alleging premises liability for failure to provide adequate security have dramatically decreased, while incidents of violent crime have in no way abated. It thus appears the opponents of the Act had valid concerns.
This Article will review the historical underpinnings of premises claims for negligent security in Mississippi. Pre-Act court opinions grappling with the issue of allocating fault between intentional and negligent tortfeasors will also be addressed. Further, the Article will examine all substantive parts of the Act, and detail how one new protection effectively renders all other provisions moot by immunizing property owners unless they aid and abet criminal activity.
Goldberg, Mark J.
"THE RISE AND FALL OF PREMISES LIABILITY FOR INJURIES ARISING FROM THIRD-PARTY CRIMINAL ACTIVITY IN MISSISSIPPI,"
Mississippi College Law Review: Vol. 41:
2, Article 8.
Available at: https://dc.law.mc.edu/lawreview/vol41/iss2/8