A judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit against a real estate firm from the family of a central Arkansas woman who was kidnapped and murdered while working there, ruling that it missed the statute of limitations by three days.
The wrongful-death suit, filed Sept. 29 by Beverly Carter's husband and two sons, alleges that Crye-Leike of Arkansas knew that she faced "life-threatening" dangers while working as a real estate agent but never trained her to handle them.
Carter, 50, disappeared in September 2014 after driving to England to show a home to Arron Lewis and his wife, who posed as clients to lure her into a remote house and kidnap her for ransom. When the plan fell apart, Carter was smothered, then buried in the woods behind a concrete plant near Cabot, where her body was discovered bound in duct tape.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox said in a court order that the case was filed outside the relevant statute of limitations, after a motion from Crye-Leike arguing that the plaintiff's claims about timeliness of the case and the firm's negligence were not compelling.
Family attorney Bryce Brewer had argued that the statute of limitations expired three years after Carter was pronounced dead, which was Sept. 30, 2014, the same day her body was found, court documents show.
The real estate agency argued that the date of the Realtor's kidnapping, Sept. 25, determines the statute of limitations. It also said in a motion for summary judgment that the facts of the case as well as testimony from Lewis and his wife, Crystal Lowery, show Carter was killed Sept. 26.
The agency also said it did not breach any duty owed to Carter. The suit argued that the company had a duty to protect independent contractors like Carter, who had been a regular multimillion-dollar seller, and tell them to use technology, such as cellphone applications, emergency buttons or GPS tracking that would alert authorities if they encountered danger on the job.
The agency's motion noted that Crye-Leike Arkansas helped Carter's family and police search for her after she vanished. In its initial response to the wrongful-death suit, the company said Carter's death was caused by the actions of parties outside Crye-Leike Arkansas' control, and that Carter set up her own appointments with clients, rather than arranging them through the firm.
Brewer did not return a call seeking comment Thursday. Nor did the firm representing Crye-Leike Real Estate, Inc., and Crye-Leike of Arkansas, Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.
Lewis was convicted in a trial in January 2016 and is serving two life terms for capital murder and kidnapping. Lowery testified against him in an arrangement with prosecutors and was sentenced to 30 years in prison for first-degree murder and kidnapping.
Metro on 06/08/2018
Print Headline: Wrongful-death suit in Realtor's killing dismissed