From the Deep Pocket Files, sometimes I don’t have to add a thing:
Pamela Fritz accidentally backed her car into a lamppost while attempting to exit her parking space. Shifting forward and accelerating quickly to escape the lamppost menace, she lost control of her car and it went airborne, flying through the window and striking Marshall. It’s a whopper of a tale, but it’s all true. And Marshall’s estate sued the restaurant for wrongful death.
See, as the complaint alleges, defendants
“Improperly designed the Burger King restaurant building, by designing the building to be bricked up only a few feet from the ground, when the Defendant[s] knew or should have known, that permitting the building to be bricked up only a few feet from the ground may allow a vehicle from the parking lot to drive into the building, and crash through the glass on top of the brick.”
I’ll now quote from the Illinois appellate court decision:
Burger King and Davekiz filed a joint motion to dismiss, claiming they had no duty under the law to protect their patrons from the threat of runaway cars crashing into the restaurant. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the allegations against Burger King and Davekiz with prejudice. The trial court reasoned:
“[T]he likelihood of this scenario is so minor that to guard against it in the manner suggested would require fortifying every building within striking distance of any crazed or incredibly inept driver, and the result would be to require foregoing any hope of aesthetically pleasing or business-enticing buildings. Obviously these two factors are less important that [sic] the safety of invitees, but the Court is required to do a balancing test and in doing so, I find that the duty stated by the plaintiffs is too high in this instance.”
Yet, amazingly, the appellate court reversed. Burger King has appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. The always-looking-out-for-our-interests Illinois Trial Lawyers Association has filed a brief asking for affirmance. (Brian Mackey, “Car Smashing Store ‘Foreseeable’: Advocates”, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Aug. 2 ($) (via ICJL); Anthony Marshall, “Parking lots can create unexpected dangers if not inspected”, Hotel & Motel Management, Jun. 20). (The Anthony Marshall columns, which assume matter-of-factly that defendants will and should get sued for everything, have recommended that hotels ban water slides, chewing gum sales, bathtubs, and birthday candles. They’re valuable reading to explain why small businessmen hate lawyers.)