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Holloway v. Madison Trinity Limited Partnership

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk

July 18, 2019

DETRA HOLLOWAY [1]
v.
MADISON TRINITY LIMITED PARTNERSHIP & another. [2]

          Heard: May 2, 2019.

         Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on March 18, 2016. The case was heard by Paul D. Wilson, J., on a motion for summary judgment, and motions to reopen evidence and for reconsideration also were considered by him.

          Sandra E. Lundy for the plaintiff.

          Jeffrey C. McLucas for the defendants.

          Present: Milkey, Sacks, & Englander, JJ.

          MILKEY, J.

         While sitting on her parked motor scooter on a public sidewalk in the Roxbury section of Boston, Detra Holloway was the victim of a drive-by shooting. She became paralyzed from her injuries and eventually died from complications related to them. Those responsible for the shooting were never identified or apprehended.

         Holloway brought negligence claims against Madison Trinity Limited Partnership and Trinity Management, LLC, the entities that operated the housing development adjacent to the site of the shooting. She claimed that the defendants caused her injuries by failing both to provide adequate security in the area and to warn her about the dangers there. On summary judgment, a Superior Court judge ruled in the defendants' favor, agreeing that, as a matter of law, they owed no such duties to the decedent in the circumstances of this case. We affirm.

         Background.[3]

         The history of Orchard Gardens.

         The shooting took place on a public road within the housing development known as Orchard Gardens. The history of that development plays a prominent role in the plaintiff's claims, and we therefore begin by briefly recounting it.

         The area in question was once the site of Orchard Park, a public housing project owned by the Boston Housing Authority (BHA). Orchard Park was plagued with widespread drug trafficking and violence, and it became "synonymous with crime." In an effort to ameliorate this, the BHA in 1996 leased the property to defendant Madison Trinity Limited Partnership, with a separate entity, defendant Trinity Management, LLC, created to operate the development (collectively, Trinity). Under the lease and related documents, Trinity agreed to undertake a significant redevelopment of Orchard Park, which was renamed Orchard Gardens. Trinity redesigned the development into townhouse-style apartments that had direct access to the sidewalk and added more green spaces. As part of the redevelopment plan, new public streets, owned by the city of Boston, were constructed within Orchard Gardens. Among those streets was Wheatley Way.

         Despite this overhaul, crime persisted in Orchard Gardens and, in 2001, Trinity decided to hire a private security company to patrol the neighborhood. As part of the security detail, two security officers were assigned to patrol the housing development, particularly in areas where crime was most prevalent, for specified hourly shifts three to seven days per week. The Boston Police Department designated these security officers as "special officers" authorized to make arrests on Orchard Gardens' property. Such arrest authority did not extend to the public streets or sidewalks. Trinity also evidently posted "No Trespassing" signs on the sides of some of its buildings, and installed a surveillance camera near its on-site office.

         The ...


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