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Fast food chain faces $20M bill in inadequate security suit

Four people are serving time in prison for beating a man into a coma three years ago. Now the fast food restaurant chain in whose parking lot the attack occurred has been told by a jury to pay the victim more than $20 million in compensation. The jury found that operators of the Jack in the Box shop were negligent and provided inadequate security.

For Pittsburgh readers who may not know, the basis of such a claim is that property owners have an obligation to provide a safe environment for their customers. When they don't, and liability can be shown, juries have seen fit to grant property injury victims due compensation for their suffering.

What happened in this particular case was this. A man and a friend pulled into the restaurant in St. Louis at about 5 in the morning three summers ago. The restaurant's drive through window was operational, but there was a group dancing to music in the parking lot. It's not clear what sparked it, but a fight broke out.

When the driver of the car attempted to break things up, a group turned on him, knocked him to the ground unconscious and robbed him. He remained in a coma for more than a year and now is permanently brain damaged and in need of round-the-clock care. He gets that from his mother, who quit her job as a nursing assistant to care for him.

The victim sued the restaurant, saying he believes the operators failed to stop the fight. A jury agreed and awarded him $25 million. The amount was reduced, though, because the panel found that the victim was partly to blame for getting involved in the fight.

The victim's mother says the award will be a huge help in paying for her son's care. But there's a question about whether payment will be made. The restaurant says it may appeal the verdict.

Source:, "Jack in the Box ordered to pay St. Louis beating victim $20 million," Joel Currier, Sept. 6, 2013

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