Jury Awards Woman $14 Million From Townhouse Managers
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) _ A jury awarded a woman $14 million from the managers of her townhouse complex because her rapist stole her address and key from their office.
Juli Bliskey had sued Berry Property Management Inc. for negligence leading to the 1987 attack. The jury award came Thursday.
The state District Court jury found the company negligent for leaving leases and keys unprotected. A woman who answered the telephone Friday at Berry Property said no one was immediately available to comment.
Bryan Ewers, who was sentenced to a 99-year prison term, pulled Ms. Bliskey’s door key from a pegboard in the office at Wilderock Townhomes, said her lawyer, William R. Edwards.
Ewers found Ms. Bliskey’s lease, with her address, among those of three single women in a file. Her townhouse key had her apartment number on it.
″He (Ewers) said he went into the office and picked out single women with good jobs,″ said Edwards. ″Kind of like a menu, I guess. So he picked out a 27-year-old single nurse.
″He opened her door, went to her bedroom and she was awakened with a hand with a sock over it and told to be quiet,″ Edwards said.
Ms. Bliskey, 31, was raped, robbed and dragged across a large field to an automatic teller machine, Edwards said.
″She was forced to draw out all the money in her account,″ he said.
Although she was traumatized by the rape, Ms. Bliskey wanted her name used to publicize her ordeal in the hope that similar attacks can be prevented, Edwards said.
Jurors also found the management company had violated the law by refusing to give Ms. Bliskey a deadbolt without an outside key plate.
″So when a company like Berry insists on having a key to a person’s residence, they have forced that person to surrender her security to them,″ Edwards said. ″When they do that, they become the trustee of the person’s security and have to keep that trust by guarding the keys.″
The deadbolt Ms. Bliskey wanted could have been bought for about $7 and prevent the attack, Edwards said.