The Mississippi Supreme Court has thrown out a $2.5 million judgment for a Jackson woman who lost sight in one eye when purse-snatchers beat her in a supermarket parking lot. In 2009 a Hinds County jury found The Kroger Company was negligent in the 2007 attack on Linda Knox. One of Knox’s attackers was sentenced to 25 years in prison; prosecutors dropped charges against the other, who cooperated with them. Ms. Knox’s lawsuit contended that the store should have had an armed guard in the parking lot, rather than just inside the store.
In a 4-3 decision, Presiding Justice Jess Dickinson wrote that Ms. Knox did not prove that Kroger had a duty to place an armed guard in its parking lot. Justice Dickinson said Kroger could not be found liable for the “unforeseeable attack” on Knox. He wrote:
But unless Kroger was on notice of an atmosphere of violence in its parking lot, it had no duty to place an armed guard there. And because Knox failed to present sufficient evidence on this point, we must reverse and render.
Justice Leslie King, in a dissent joined by two other Justices, said the Court record showed there had been other incidents in the parking lot of this Kroger store. There was testimony at trial that Kroger had security personnel on duty, but that guards in the parking lot were unarmed. Justice King wrote in his dissent:
Whether this was sufficient to give Kroger notice of an atmosphere of violence and whether Kroger owed a duty to Knox and other patrons to utilize the armed security personnel in the parking lot is a question of fact to be resolved by the jury. By returning a verdict for the Plaintiff, the jury clearly found (there was) such a duty.
Two Justices did not participate in the ruling. Perhaps that gives some hope for future cases of this sort in Mississippi. But these cases are always challenging and this decision does nothing to change that reality.
Source: Claims Journal
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