Michael Delgado and his wife, Linette, arrived at Trax Bar & Grill (a California establishment) between 10:00 and 10:30 p.m. on a Saturday night. During the approximately 90 minutes the Delgados were at Trax, bar patron Jacob Joseph and his three or four companions stared at Delgado on numerous occasions and Delgado stared back at the group. By roughly midnight, Delgado had become uncomfortable as a result of the continued staring, so he and Linette considered leaving the bar. According to the trial testimony of a Trax security guard/bouncer, Jason Nichols, Linette approached him and expressed concern that "there was going to be a fight." Nichols himself then observed what appeared to be hostile stares between Delgado and Joseph and his companions. Concluding that a fight was imminent, Nichols determined that he would ask the Delgados to leave the bar because it would be easier to get them to depart than to get Jacob's group to do so. Nichols made that request and the Delgados exited the bar. Nichols did not escort the Delgados to their car, which was parked in Trax's lot approximately 40 feet from the door to the bar. A second Trax bouncer, who earlier had been posted outside the bar, no longer was present outside. As the Delgados walked through the parking lot toward their car, a group of 12 to 20 men stood in the parking lot. This circumstance was contrary to the bar's policy of dispersing such gatherings. Joseph and his companions followed the Delgados into the parking lot and then accosted the plaintiff, beating him severely. Some of the other persons who had congregated in the parking lot soon joined in on the attack on Delgado. During or immediately after the attack, a Trax employee telephoned 911 to seek police assistance. The police arrested Joseph, who later was convicted of felony assault. Delgado suffered a fractured skull and a subdural hematoma, was hospitalized for 16 days, and experienced adverse personality changes as well as chronic headaches. He sued Joseph and Trax, alleging that Joseph committed battery and that Trax was negligent. After Joseph filed for bankruptcy, Delgado ceased pursuing the claim against him and focused on the claim against Trax. A California jury returned a verdict in favor of Delgado for approximately $81,000 in damages. Trax appealed to the California Court of Appeal, which held that because there had been no evidence of prior parking lot incidents in which a Trax patron was attacked by a group of assailants (as opposed to fights of a more minor nature), foreseeability was lacking. Concluding that Trax therefore owed Delgado no obligation to furnish an outside security guard or to intervene to protect him, the Court of Appeal ruled that the jury's verdict for the plaintiff could not stand. Delgado appealed to the Supreme Court of California. Was the Court of Appeal correct in its decision?

  • CreatedJuly 16, 2014
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