Appeals court overturns $1M verdict for Garland rape victims

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Two women who were raped inside a Garland apartment and sued over apartment security issues are upset over an appeals court ruling.

A jury first awarded the women a $ 1 million judgement, but an appeals court overturned it. They claim the apartment management company failed to secure a ground floor window that the rapist used to get into their apartment.

Photographs of Tracy Childers taken in June 2014 are a vivid reminder of the violence she and her then girlfriend endured inside her Garland apartment.

Childers, now 55, agreed to be identified for the story. The man who attacked them was Jared Alan Wade. He was ultimately convicted on multiple counts of sexual assault.

According to a civil lawsuit later filed by the women, Wade entered Childers' first-floor apartment at Stoneleigh Place through an unsecure window. It's a safety issue Childers says she reported to property management months before the attack.

Soon after the complaint, Childers says she received a notice that it had been fixed. She didn't think so.

“I looked at the window, and it had thumb screw locks on the side,” Childers said. “The latch wasn't a fix. It still didn't do what it was supposed to do.”

A jury sided with the women and awarded them $ 1 million in damages. The apartment company appealed the ruling saying there was no evidence to show that the apartment complex could have foreseen the criminal acts.

The appeals court sided with the apartment company saying in part “the complete absence of evidence to show foreseeability in a negligence case is the type of exceptional circumstance requiring the verdict be overturned.”

Childers' attorney delivered the devastating news.

“I was so dumbfounded,” she recalled. “I was hearing him and I was trying to take it all in. I was like why? How?”

Attorney Lin McCraw says Texas property code requires exterior windows to have working locks the same way it requires doors to have locks. It’s the reason why he says he was blindsided by the higher court's ruling.

“The more I read that, the more I felt like Alice in Wonderland,” the attorney said. “Of course you can foresee someone coming into a window or door if the lock doesn't work. That is absolute common sense. I read it again, and I realized just how ridiculous the conclusions were.”

McCraw plans to fight it. Childers isn't giving up.

“It was a major punch in the gut,” she said. “It's like I’m having to fight for my life again.”

McCraw says he plans to file a motion for a rehearing. If that's denied, then he'll ask the Texas supreme court to review the appellate court's decision.

Childers now has a metal plate in her face and double vision. She says she had planned to use some of that money to pay medical bills.