Our Supreme Court is about to take up an interesting Tennessee premises liability injury case. The law is already fairly clear that a business owner has a duty to provide a safe environment to its customers. Specifically, a busniess has a duty to warn the patron of any known dangers, fix any known dangerous conditions and don’t create any dangerous conditions. I think we can all agree that those are reasonable legal duties but like any law it can sometimes be difficult to know where to draw the line.
In this case, it is alleged that a patron was drunk and causing a seen at a local Wal-mart. A Wal- Mart employee kicked the drunk patron out of the store. Unfortunately, the patron then got in his car and hurt someone while leaving the parking lot. HMMMM. So here is the dilemma. Wal-Mart says we didn’t serve this guy drinks we just wanted him to leave. We didn’t ask him to come and we don’t have a duty to hold someone until police can arrive. On the other hand we have the poor victim in the parking lot who believes that Wal-Mart did what was easiest and most convenient for them and not what was safest for the patrons. If the guy was drunk enough that they didn’t want him in the store then they should have known he was too drunk to drive. However, despite knowing this they sent him to his car and in the middle of their shoppers.
So what will the supreme court do with this case? Who knows but my bet is that they will say when Wal-Mart took the affirmative action to deal with this guy they had a duty to keep their shoppers safe. If he would have come on their property and hurt someone without them having knowledge of the danger that would clearly not be their fault. However, in this case they knew the guy was too drunk to shop so why wasn’t he too drunk to drive in their parking lot? I guarantee if the guy was shoplifting they would have called the police so why didn’t they call the police if it would have made their shoppers safer. We are all aware of people having their life’s destroyed by drunk drivers and it appears that this store may have ignored that basic knowledge and directed the guy towards his car. We all have responsibility and I think this store should help this victim instead of dragging her to the supreme court.
Our Tennessee Injury Attorneys have handled inadequate security cases and premises liability cases throughout the state. If you believe a business put you in an dangerous situation please feel free to call my office to discuss it with our lawyers today.