Property owners have a duty to maintain a safe environment for individuals who have a right to be there. Many personal injury attorneys believe this includes making certain that the property is safe from any criminal activity that could likely occur. A Denny’s restaurant outside of Seattle is being sued for negligent security during a 2007 shooting that injured customers. The lawsuit accuses the chain restaurant of failing to address thousands of incidents nationwide that endangered customers and employees at the diners.
The trial began on Monday and is expected to last about four weeks. The lawsuit’s focus is primarily on the restaurant where the shooting occurred, but it is expected that the lawsuit will discuss the chain’s poor practices nationwide regarding inadequate security during the hours of 12:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
On Jan. 21, 2007, the man convicted of the shooting had walked into a Denny’s in Kent, Washington and started a fight with a customer in the restaurant. The customer fought back against the attacker. The attacker left the diner after the fight, but returned a short while later with a handgun and fired 11 shots inside the restaurant. The shooting happened after 2:00 a.m.
The lawsuit claims that between January 2004 and January 2007, the chain’s eateries had reported more than 3,000 violent incidents nationwide. The lawsuit also points out that the late hours account for about 25 percent of the restaurant chain’s profits. Before the morning of the shooting, employees of the Kent Denny’s had told management that they were concerned about the rough crowds that would come in between midnight and 5:00 a.m. Many of the customers were coming from bars that had just closed. Management did not address the concerns.
One customer was shot twice in the back during the Kent Denny’s shooting in 2007. He is now a quadriplegic and lives in an assisted-care facility. The 31-year-old man is suing the restaurant for $79.5 million to account for loss in pay and continued medical expenses. The victim was eating breakfast with his brother when the incident occurred.
Another woman is suing for $530,000 in medical bills and emotional distress. She was also a customer at the time and was shot in the knee.
Florida premises liability attorneys believe that property owners have a responsibility to hire proper security to patrol problematic areas. When a property owner neglects security issues, they are putting lives in danger. They risk the safety of patrons, potentially leaving them to become victims of crimes that could have been prevented. The lawsuit argues that the restaurant chain was aware of thousands of violent incidents occurring at eateries nationwide, but nothing was done to resolve the issues. Uniformed officers or security guards could have been hired to ensure a safe environment for employees and customers. Unfortunately, owners of Denny’s restaurants chose not to.
Source:Seattle PI: “Kent Denny’s shooting culminates in $79.5 mil lawsuit,” Laura Pierce, 7 Jan. 2011