Article Courtesy of The Daily Business Review
By Lidia Dinkova
Published May 16, 2019
News of the slaying of two women at a luxury Miami condominium building
shook Paraiso Bay residents and may trigger a negligent-security lawsuit.
The women’s families could have a case against the condo association, Miami
attorney Jason Kellogg said.
The killings also highlight a controversial state law that says real estate
brokers and home sellers don’t have to disclose to a buyer if there was a
murder in a home, another attorney, Andrew Blasi, said. The law protects
brokers and sellers from follow-up lawsuits.
Miami police found the bodies of Sophia Simpson, 35, and Gabrella Griffith,
27, in a 34th-story unit in the building at 650 NE 32nd St. on May 7,
according to an arrest affidavit. Police said Franklyn Williams, 46,
confessed to stabbing both women May 2. Williams, who said he was a
boyfriend of one of the victims and lived in the unit, confessed to first
stabbing his girlfriend and then the other woman when she came into the
“It’s very, very unfortunate and very tragic,” said Blasi, a shareholder
with Shapiro, Blasi, Wasserman & Hermann in Boca Raton.
Kellogg, a partner at Levine Kellogg Lehman Schneider + Grossman, said
whether the association is sued largely depends on any history with
Williams, such as whether it knew of any past indications that he was
aggressive or violent.
“An attorney representing the victim’s estate, I think, could investigate
and potentially find a negligence claim against the association for failing
to discover that this person was violent,” he said.
Whether Williams’ name was on the lease or not wouldn’t matter. If there
were past incidents and he was a co-signer on the lease, the association
could have taken steps to evict him. If he wasn’t on the lease, the
association could have asked the women to not allow him to stay, Kellogg
The attorney for Paraiso Bay Condominium Association Inc., Becker
shareholder Michael C. Góngora in Miami, said he has been representing the
association since April and declined further comment. A voicemail left with
the property manager wasn’t returned.
Kellogg, said any negligence claim against the condo association essentially
would be against the residents who control it, who would have to share any
The Related Group, Paraiso Bay’s developer and a prolific real estate
company founded by CEO Jorge Pérez, said in an emailed statement that it
turned over the building to the unit owners in February.
“The homeowners’ board is solely responsible for the management and security
arrangements. The firm has no information on the incident as they are no
longer involved,” the statement said.
Related developed the Paraiso complex, four bayfront condominium towers in
Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood, and Paraiso Bay opened last year.
A state law states brokers and sellers don’t have to tell buyers if there
was a homicide or a suicide at a property, Blasi said. The law also protects
them from being sued for not disclosing this information to buyers before
“There’s basically been a lot of controversy over the statute,” Blasi said.
The issue stems from buyers finding out about a home’s horrific history
after closing, which could eventually impact them financially and
emotionally, he said.
For one, the buyer paid market value for the home, but if the property’s
history becomes public later, it may not get market value on resale.
“Beyond the dollars, some people depending on religious beliefs or depending
on their emotional nature are very, very personally affected or traumatized
by” the knowledge there was a death, Blasi said. “You find yourself having
made a major investment to own a piece of property only to discover that
somebody gruesomely killed themselves in that property a few months earlier.
Now you are buying the property knowing nothing about it, and now you are
living there in a very questionable emotional state because it wasn’t
disclosed because of the statute.”
The law was passed after a Florida Supreme Court ruling in favor of a buyer
who sued the seller of a home alleging property defects, including the roof.
The court ruled the sellers have a duty to disclose facts about the property
that aren’t easily noticed but affect the property’s value.
This would include a death in the home. But brokers think the emotional
effect on buyers is so subjective that they shouldn’t have to disclose
deaths, Blasi said.
This means there would be strong pushback from the real estate community if
lawmakers decide to revisit the law allowing them not to disclose a death.
“Objectively, there’s no real way of knowing what the impact is. Some people
are affected by that. Some people aren’t affected by that,” he said. “I
think the Realtor community feels that the effect is so subjective that it
should not affect the objective value of the property.”