SW Legal Educational Publishing

No Premises Liability for Attack on Store Patron in Parking Lot by Irrational Assailant
Description Appeals court upheld dismissal of suit against a convenience store, where patron was shot in parking lot by assailant described as either drunk or high on drugs. Ordinary security precautions would not deter an irrational assailant, so the store was not at fault for not having more security.
Topic Torts
Key Words Premises Liability, Negligence, Proximate Cause
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts When Liller stopped at a convenience store at 1:30 a.m. a man confronted him in the parking lot with a gun and demanded his gold necklace. Liller ran toward the store and was shot twice by the assailant, who then fled. Liller sued the store, contending it had a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect patrons from foreseeable intentional injuries by third parties. Trial court granted the store summary judgment; Liller appealed.
Decision Affirmed. To establish that negligence was a proximate cause of the injury suffered, plaintiff must show that the injury would not have occurred but for the defendant's negligence. The store's failure to have more security was not the proximate cause of the assault in the parking lot. Testimony from witnesses was that the assailant was either drunk or high on drugs ("crazy" and "looked mean and wild") and, hence irrational and not reasonably deterred by ordinary security precautions.
Citation Liller v. Quick Stop Food Mart, Inc., 507 S.E.2d 602 (Ct. App., N.C., 1998)

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