Restaurant patron sues Denny’s for serious injury

Some time around 1:30 a.m. Andre Taylor and several of hisfriends left a social gathering to visit a nearby Denny’s restaurant to getsomething to eat. After they ordered, Taylor realized he left his wallet in thecar.

He was not in a hurry, running or intoxicated as he pushedopen the restaurant’s exterior door. Although he put his hand on the door’snarrow brass plate, it slipped onto the door glass. Taylor’s hand broke throughone of the door’s glass panes, causing him to cut his right arm and laceratehis flexor tendon.

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Taylor was rushed to a hospital for emergency surgery on hiswrist. His surgeon testified by deposition the surgery was a success with nofurther treatment planned. Taylor was released to return to work about twomonths later.

After his recovery, Taylor sued Denny’s restaurant fornegligence in failing to provide a safe exterior door. Among other things, healleged the door did not have shatterproof glass, lacked a push bar and hadonly a narrow brass plate to push on.

Denny’s attorney argued there had been no previous problemswith the door or its operation. But Taylor’s attorney replied the door lackedan adequate place for patron’s to push it open so it was reasonable forpatron’s to push on the glass, which was the proximate cause of Taylor’sinjury.

If you were the judge would you rule Denny’s Restaurant canbe found liable for negligence in failing to maintain a safe door?

The judge said yes!

The evidence shows the door had a very narrow brass plateabout the size of a hand to push open; there was no push bar running across thedoor; the glass was not shatterproof; and the possibility of a patron pushingon the glass was high, the judge began.

In the absence of a push bar or a wider push plate, hecontinued, Denny’s should have used a more robust glass or shatterproof glassto prevent injury such as what occurred here. It appears the condition of thedoor was the proximate cause of Taylor’s injury, the judge added.

Because it was foreseeable a patron would exert pressure onthe glass, evidence showed Denny’s was negligent for its failure to maintain asafe door, he explained. Based on the evidence presented, Denny’s is liable toTaylor for his injuries, he ruled.

A verdict in favor of Taylor for $33,335, reduced by 10percent contributory negligence by Taylor, results in an award of $30,002, plus$702 costs, the judge concluded.

Based on the 2006 U.S. District Court decision in Taylorv. Denny’s Inc., 422 Fed.Supp.2d 928.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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