Families Awarded Compensation for Restaurant´s Failure to Provide Safe Environment

The families of two teenagers, who died after an attack in a McDonalds parking lot, have been awarded $27 million compensation for a restaurant´s failure to provide a safe environment.    

In February 2012, Denton James Ward (18) of Flower Mound, Texas, and his girlfriend Lauren Bailey Crisp (19) of Dripping Springs in Texas visited the McDonalds restaurant in College Station. As the couple walked through the McDonalds parking lot, Denton was viciously attacked by a group of 15-20 youths who kicked him and stomped on him while he was lying on the ground.

Denton possibly died from his injuries sustained in the parking lot attack, but Lauren tried to save his life by putting him into her vehicle and driving to the nearest hospital. However, while she was on the way to the hospital, Lauren ran a red light and was hit by a pick-up truck – an accident which resulted in her death.

The families of the two teenage victims made a claim against McDonalds for compensation for the restaurant´s failure to provide a safe environment on the grounds that the College Station branch of McDonalds had a history of late-night trouble, but the restaurant had failed to employ security guards or install CCTV to monitor disturbances and identify those responsible.

McDonalds denied their liability for the two deaths – arguing that there was no evidence to prove that either teenager had died on their premises – and the case proceeded to 361st District Court in Bryan, Texas, where before Judge Steve Smith and a jury, the families of the two victims produced evidence that local police had been called to the restaurant on more than twenty occasions during 2012 to break up fights.

Despite the evidence to the contrary – and one of the attackers being identified and sentenced to 90 days for assault – two McDonalds managers who were working on the night in question testified that they had never been aware of any violence at the restaurant. Despite their claims that the restaurant was a safe environment, the jury found in the two families favor, and awarded the family of Lauren Crisp $11 million compensation for the restaurant´s failure to provide a safe environment, and the family of Denton Ward $16 million.

It is anticipated that McDonalds will appeal the verdict of the jury.