Plaintiffs in bar shooting were owed protection

March 25, 2015

When a customer pulled a gun and started shooting, the bar had a well-established duty to protect its other customers, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

April Goodwin, Tiffany Randolph and Javon Washington were socializing with friends at Yeakle’s Sports Bar and Grill in Grant County. After Rodney Carter thought he heard Washington make a derogatory remark about his wife, he shot Washington then accidentally shot Goodwin and Randolph.

The three injured individuals subsequently filed a complaint against the bar. However, the trial court entered a summary judgment in favor of the business, agreeing the bar did not have a duty of protection because Carter’s criminal acts were unforeseeable.

In April Goodwin, Tiffany Randolph, and Javon Washington v. Yeakle’s Sports Bar and Grill, Inc., 27A02-1407-CT-526, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

The Court of Appeals held that the balancing test between the factors (relationship between the parties; reasonable foreseeability of harm; public policy concerns) set forth in Webb v. Jarvis, 575 N.E.2d 992, 995 (Ind. 1991) does not apply because the duty owed by the bar to its patrons is well-established.

Instead, it followed the Indiana Supreme Court’s analysis in Yost v. Wabash College, 3 N.E.3d 509, 515 (Ind. 2014) and found the bar owed the appellants a duty to take reasonable precautions to protect them from foreseeable criminal attacks.

“…as our supreme court has held, reasonable foreseeability does not determine duty where, as here, the duty is well-establish,” Edward Najam, Jr., wrote for the court. “The Bar owed the Appellants a duty to protect them from foreseeable criminal acts of third parties. As such, the Bar cannot satisfy its burden to affirmatively negate the duty element of the Appellants’ negligence claims.”




Recent Articles by Marilyn Odendahl