Frances Mae Davis. (Source: Photo provided by family)
Davis' daugthers Shelly Wells, left, and Michele Gagne, right
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The daughter of the 78-year-old woman who was shot and killed in the parking lot of the Myrtle Beach Mall on Jan. 8 has filed a lawsuit against the mall, claiming that the company’s negligence, carelessness and recklessness resulted in her mother’s death.
The civil lawsuit, filed on March 29 on behalf of Michele Gagne as the personal representative of the estate of Frances Mae Davis, seeks actual, special, consequential and punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury trial
Davis was found shot to death inside a vehicle in the parking lot of the Myrtle Beach Mall, with her purse missing, according to police. Davis’ other daughter was inside a nearby store at the time, shopping for a birthday gift for her mother, who would have turned 79 the day after she was killed.
Police are still looking for Davis’ killer, and the family raised money for a billboard to help find the person responsible.
"Frances Mae Davis was an active, caring and hard-working woman," said Ian Maguire, the attorney representing Gagne in the lawsuit, via email. "She was a mom, grandmother and great-grandmother. Naturally, the family is still trying to cope with this horrible loss. They are extremely grateful for all the kindness that they have received from countless members of the community. We know that this tragedy was preventable and avoidable. Yet there has been no accountability or responsibility taken. Going forward, the goal for the family is to make sure that this type of senseless tragedy does not happen to any other innocent family in our community."
The lawsuit claims the Myrtle Beach Mall did not have an operating video surveillance system outside on its premises. And that “due to and as a result of the Defendant' s negligence, gross negligence, and recklessness, including but not limited to negligent hiring, negligent training, and negligent retention of the Defendant’s employees, who were acting or omitted from acting, within the course and scope of their employment, [Davis] suffered severe bodily injuries including her ultimate death.”
The lawsuit goes on to allege that in the months before Davis was shot, a number of crimes, including violent crimes, had been committed at the Myrtle Beach Mall, and that the mall was on notice that the location was unsafe and posed a danger to the public.
On Christmas Eve, HCPD responded to a purse snatching in the parking lot of Myrtle Beach Mall. The police report for that case said a woman reported being pushed to the ground while a man held her face down on the ground with his foot on her cheek demanding her wallet and keys. In January, HCPD said there's no reason to believe the crimes are connected.
Before January 8, the mall was on notice that it needed to develop written policies and procedures, training materials, codes of conduct, and other methods of operation, including having working video surveillance cameras, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit continued by claiming several causes that led to Davis’ death: negligence, negligent hiring, negligent supervision, negligent retention, and violation of the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act, among others.
In addition to damages, Gagne is also seeking funeral and burial expenses.
The general manager of the Myrtle Beach Mall said he could not comment on pending litigation. At the end of January, he said Myrtle Beach Mall has highly-trained security guards on site and they make the safety of customers as well employees a top priority.