Amid Lawyer Exodus, More Tort Reform for Mississippi?

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You Haven’t Heard the Truth About the “Landowners Protection Act”
Guest post by: Shanda M. Yates[1]
You have no doubt seen at least one article discussing the “Landowners Protection Act” which is pending before both the House and Senate.  But, if you aren’t a lawyer or one of the large corporate sponsors of the bill, have you paid attention?  Many supporters of the Act have gone out of their way to convince the public that these bills mean nothing to the average citizen; that your life will not be impacted.  Some have even gone so far as to grossly misstate the scope and reach of the proposed bill[2].  However, what you haven’t heard is the truth.
Contrary to what supporters of the Act have been circulating in the media this week, the proposed, overly broad legislation is not needed to protect “innocent property owners” against being sued anytime a crime occurs on their property[3].  Why? Because the current law handed down by the Mississippi appellate courts already does that.  Under the current law, claims against a business owner stemming from a third-party criminal assault or attack on the business owner’s property will only survive under very limited circumstances.  Such claims are only viable if (1) the property owner knew that the third-party was a violent or dangerous person yet failed to take reasonable action to remove the person from the property or (2) that the property was located in an “atmosphere of violence” and the property owner had knowledge of same yet failed to implement reasonable security measures.[4]  Current law also places limits on what is sufficient to constitute an “atmosphere of violence” and even which evidence may or may not be used to establish the existence of same.[5]
In a nut shell, and without any “legalese,” the law currently limits the scope of

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