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Housing Authority on the Hook for Project Shooting

(CN) - The Memphis Housing Authority should have taken steps to prevent the fatal shooting of a tenant in the Jefferson Square housing projects, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled.

The state high court reversed summary judgment for the housing authority, saying it should have foreseen the possibility of violence, given the high rate of poverty and violence in projects. The housing authority also knew that the shooter had stabbed another tenant with a pocket knife four years earlier, the court noted.

"Indeed, the risk of violent attack at a housing project is nothing new," Justice Wade wrote. "The potential for violence in the Jefferson Square Apartments was, therefore, generally foreseeable by the landlord."

The court recognized the vital need for housing projects, but noted that the extra duties of closely monitoring tenants with rap sheets and conducting better background checks "does not appear to be overly burdensome."

Chief Justice Janice Holder dissented in part.

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