Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Fast food chain ordered to pay $20M for parking lot assault

Many fast food restaurants here in Pittsburgh and across the nation have extended the hours in which they keep their drive-through service open to well past midnight. While the purpose of extending fast food service is obviously to capitalize on the late night cravings of those people out on the town for the night, it goes without saying that this business strategy is not without inherent risks.

For example, late night hours can present heightened security risks, as the darkness and relative lack of people around can provide sufficient cover for criminal activity. Furthermore, this general absence of people coupled with frequently intoxicated patrons and a delayed police response can best be described as a recipe for disaster and even result in potential legal liability for the fast food chain.

To illustrate, consider a recent case involving industry giant Jack in the Box and a $20 million jury verdict stemming from a parking lot assault.

Back on June 20, 2010, a now 35-year-old man and a friend stopped at a Jack in the Box in the St. Louis area just after 5 a.m. to get some food from the drive-through service. At the time, there was an impromptu dance party going on in the parking lot and a fight erupted after the man's friend began talking to a woman.

When the man attempted to come to the aid of his friend, he was viciously beaten by a group of four people, all of whom were later sent to prison for their actions. Sadly, the attack resulted in permanent brain damage that has left the man unable to feed himself or walk, and requiring 24-hour care.

His mother, understandably distraught and frustrated by the incident, filed a lawsuit against Jack in the Box claiming that the restaurant failed to provide its employees with the necessary training, failed to stop the parking lot brawl and failed to follow its own procedures for dealing with disruptive customers.

After an eight-day trial held earlier this month, a jury returned a $25 million verdict for the man, which was later reduced to $20.5 million after they found him partially at fault for the fight.

For their part, Jack in the Box has already indicated that they will appeal the verdict, claiming it was unsupported by the evidence.

Stay tuned for updates ...

If you have suffered life-changing personal injuries because of negligent security or lost a loved one because of otherwise hazardous conditions, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced attorney.

Source: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Jack in the Box ordered to pay St. Louis beating victim $20 million," Joel Currier, September 6, 2013

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
20 Stanwix Street, Seventh Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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