Complicated lawsuits sometimes take many years to resolve and can go to trial multiple times as decisions are appealed or reversed in different courts. One such complicated and ongoing lawsuit involves a case against the amusement park Six Flags Over Georgia, and the litigation is bringing up some interesting questions about the extent of premises liability.
The situation started in July of 2007, when Joshua Martin, who was 19 at the time, was brutally beaten by four six flags employees just outside of the park while he was waiting for a bus with his friends. The gang used brass knuckles, kicked, and stomped on Martin, leaving him in a coma for seven days and causing permanent brain damage.
Six years after the incident, in 2013, Martin was awarded $35 million in damages by a Cobb County court in Georgia. 2% of the fault was apportioned to each of the four Six Flags employees, and 92% of the fault was assigned to Six Flags Over Georgia, making them responsible for $32 million of the total award.
However, Six Flags appealed the decision to the Georgia Court of Appeals, which overturned the decision and ordered a new trial for the case. Their reasoning was that there were other people who may have participated in the attack who did not work at Six Flags. The jury did not have all the information, therefore the decision could not stand.
The case was again appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, which is now holding a trial to address the incident. One of the main points of contention in this current trial is whether Six Flags Over Georgia can be held liable for injuries that occurred outside of their property.
The lawyer for Six Flags, Laurie Webb Daniel, argues that premises liability should be limited “to premises and approaches. What we have here is a plaintiff asking the court to take the premises out of premises liability.” Daniel argues that “the approach” in this case should only extend to the area a few steps from the border of the property.
In contrast, Michael Terry, who is arguing on behalf of Martin, believes that the approach to the bus stop which takes visitors away from and to the park should fall under premises liability. He believes that Six Flags has a duty to maintain the approach from the bus stop because it is obvious that hundreds if not thousands of patrons use this approach every day. Moreover, he says that “It’s undisputed that the perpetrators targeted Martin while he was on the property.” Terry continued, “They looked at him. They glared at him. They followed him.”
If you are considering taking legal action against person or business under the accusation of premises liability, there are nuances that should be taken into consideration or, potentially, alternative arguments that might be better suited for your case. For experienced legal counsel in Pennsylvania, Maryland, or Washington, D.C., call the office of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian today at (800) 529-6162 or contact them online.
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