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Childcare center marred by reckless deaths

Is property tenant liable for murderer's criminal act?

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Since 1997, Southcoast Childcare Centers Inc. has leased its childcare facility from the First Baptist Church. The leased property, located adjacent to a busy street, includes a children's play area that is surrounded by a 4-foot-high chain-link fence. On May 3, 1999, Steven Abrams intentionally drove his large Cadillac Coupe de Ville through the fence, killing little Brandon Wiener and Sierra Soto, and injuring several other children. Purchase Bob Bruss reports online. Adams was convicted of first-degree murder with lying-in-wait and multiple-murder special circumstances. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole. But the parents of Brandon and Sierra sued Southcoast for negligence and premises liability damages. They alleged the childcare center should have erected a stronger fence around the play area. However, the childcare center owners replied this was a criminal act, which was unforeseeable, so there should be no liability. They noted there had never been any crim...