LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CN) – The real estate company that employed a Little Rock realtor who was kidnapped and murdered in 2014 is to blame for not training her to handle life-threatening situations, the woman’s family claims in court.
The family of the late Beverly Carter, 50, sued Crye-Leike Inc. and Crye-Leike of Arkansas on Friday in Pulaski County Court, saying the company “has not been held responsible for its part in this tragedy.”
Carter was found in a shallow grave on Sept. 30, 2014 after Arron Lewis and Crystal Lowery set up a phony house-showing through Crye-Leike as part of a ransom scheme. The estranged couple suffocated her to death when the ransom plot went awry and then buried her at a concrete plant where Lewis once worked, Carter’s family says in the lawsuit.
State prosecutors said Lewis targeted the married grandmother because he believed she was a “rich broker.”
Lewis and Lowery were both convicted of murder.
According to the family’s lawsuit, the national real estate company knew of the life-threatening dangers that Carter might face, but never trained her to handle them.
“Crye-Leike had a duty to keep its independent contractors safe while on the job. This duty includes the duties to provide them with the necessary information, awareness, consulting, training, support, guidance, and technology to keep them safe, especially for use while meeting with prospective buyers for home visits,” the complaint states.
It adds that the company “never ran background checks, nor encouraged its realtors to run background checks, on potential home buyers previously unknown to the company,” and did not encourage its realtors “to travel in groups and/or with partners for safety when showing rural homes.”
As a result of the real estate company’s negligence, Carter “suffered fatal injuries, conscious pain and suffering, mental anguish, fear of impending death, and ultimately death,” the family says.
The family, which includes Carter’s husband and two sons, seek damages for wrongful death and negligence.
They are represented by Bryce Brewer of North Little Rock.
Crye-Leike could not be reached for comment after business hours Monday.
Crye-Leike, Arkansas’ largest real estate company, has more than 120 offices in nine states and is ranked fifth among the nation’s largest residential real estate brokerage firms, according to its website.