Back in December, my colleague Greg posted “Premises Security 101,” noting the increased attention our clients were paying to premises security issues. As it turns out, they were right to do so. Less than two months later, on February 7, 2011, a King County jury decided that Denny’s owed three plaintiffs $46.4 million in total for injuries sustained when a patron shot into a Denny’s Restaurant in Kent with a semiautomatic gun. According to plaintiffs’ attorney Ron Perey, this was the largest personal injury verdict ever rendered in the State of Washington; however, Denny’s insurance company settled the case for $13 million before the jury delivered its damage award.
Just to be clear, the man who shot plaintiffs Steve Tolenoa, Lisa Beltran-Walker and Carl Walker was not employed by or otherwise related to Denny’s or its management or the owner of that particular Denny’s. Frank Evans was a violent drunk guy who showed up after the bars closed, picked a fight with another patron, lost it, got mad, left and came back with a Glock .40, which he used to shoot up the restaurant (11 bullets). Mr. Evans was convicted on multiple counts of first-degree assault and is currently serving a 62 year sentence in state prison.
Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.