North Carolina Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of Battery Claim Against Business Owner due to Lack of Foreseeability

There are some situations where a third party has a duty of care to protect you from the dangerous acts of another person. Although there may be criminal charges pressed against the person who carried out the battery, false imprisonment, or other crime, the victim can also bring a claim against the persons allegedly responsible for failing to prevent the harm. At Maurer Law, our committed team of Charlotte personal injury lawyers is prepared to assist you with determining whether you have a claim against another person or company for failing to protect you from foreseeable harm from a third party.

A recent appeal demonstrates this theory. In the claim, the plaintiff alleged that a medical group and its staff failed to protect the plaintiff from an agitated and violent patient that entered the business’ waiting room while she was present and waiting for an appointment. The agitated person ended up attacking the plaintiff in the office. The plaintiff alleged in her complaint that the medical group and its staff had a duty to protect persons who entered the business and that the attack was foreseeable once the agitated patient arrived. The plaintiff further alleged that the defendants acted negligently by failing to immediately call for help when the agitated patient made statements threatening severe violence, by summoning the plaintiff to the area where the agitated patient was located, and by failing to train staff about how to deal with the situation.

In response, the defendants argued that the assault was not foreseeable and that therefore they did not have a duty to the plaintiff to protect her. They also argued that even if a duty was established, they immediately contacted the police and attempted to diffuse the situation before attempting to restrain the agitated patient. The lower court ultimately granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment finding that no duty arose. The plaintiff appealed.

On review, the appellate court upheld the lower court’s finding on the basis that the record lacked evidence establishing that the attack on the plaintiff was foreseeable. To survive a motion for summary judgment in a case alleging that a business failed to protect the plaintiff from the criminal acts of a third party, the plaintiff must provide enough evidence to show that the criminal act was foreseeable, based on prior general criminal activity in the area. Or, where the plaintiff can show that the defendant knew that criminal activity existed or where the activity existed long enough for the defendant to discover it. The plaintiff in the case at hand had admitted that there had been no prior acts of criminal activity and that the aggressive patient had not acted violently in the past.

If you were injured in an attack by a third party on someone else’s property, you may have a claim for damages. Being attacked is one of the most terrifying and stressful situations that someone can endure. While you are coping with your injuries and recovering from this trauma, we will explore your legal rights and ensure that you receive the outcome that you deserve. We provide a free consultation to discuss your situation. Call our seasoned team of Charlotte personal injury lawyers today at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online to get started.

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