Wet Willies is a frozen daiquiri bar and restaurant concept that is franchised throughout the Southeast with 14 locations. The concept is simple: provide frozen alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks/daiquiris, as well as food, to the public. One such Wet Willies bar is located in Buckhead, the uptown district in Atlanta considered to be one of the major financial and commercial centers in the southeastern United States. This particular Wet Willies location is popular and frequented by young African Americans in Atlanta.
If you have never been to a Wet Willies, it is similar to a Fat Tuesday or a Pineapple Willy’s, where the available frozen drinks are lined up in see through metal tanks in a row behind the bar. Some of these frozen concoctions have catchy monikers that aim to indicate the strength of the alcohol (i.e. grain alcohol) in the drink. Having personally been to such an establishment, it is easy to become unknowingly inebriated from the sweet frozen libations over a short period of time depending upon your consumption.
On August 3, 2013, according to an AJC article, a young woman was at the Buckhead Wet Willies with her sister and perhaps, other friends. An unknown male came up to this woman and attempted to lift her up by her waist several times. However, the woman continuously told the man to stop. At some point, the man was successful in lifting her up. Unfortunately, the man dropped the woman on her head and fell on top on her. Consequently, the woman was unable to move her arms or her legs on the floor. She was transported by an ambulance to Atlanta Medical Center where she was treated for paralysis and other injuries. Three days later, the woman’s sister reported the incident to the Atlanta Police Department and the investigation is ongoing with zero suspects.
The question remains as to what options the innocent victim may have against the assailant and/or the Wet Willies franchise. Simply put, if the man is identified, then the victim may file suit against him for compensation for her bills, injuries, pain and suffering, and perhaps punitive damages under O.C.G.A. 51-12-5.1 (if the facts indicate that the man’s actions showed “…willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.”
Certainly, an argument could be made that such conduct by the male in attempting to pick up a protesting unknown woman in a bar by the waist constitutes an assault and battery that could lead to serious injuries. Further, the fact that the man continued to attempt this feat despite protestations and lack of consent demonstrated willful misconduct. However, if the man has no assets and no job, then any verdict obtained by the woman is essentially worthless and symbolic. But – what if the woman had any basis to sue the restaurant? Let’s take a look at some possible theories of recovery in this regard.
The woman may have a premises liability claim against the owner of the restaurant. Generally, such a claim results from an injury to a person on the property of another. For sake of brevity, an owner of property owes a duty to his or her guests (“invitees”) and in some cases, other persons, to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. The injured person must establish that the property owner owed a duty; that the duty was breached; and that the breach proximately caused injury. Such a claim extends to the method and manner in which one owns or controls a “premises.” The premises can be thought of as land, home or as in this situation, a building containing a restaurant.
The major types of premises liability claims include slip/trips/falls and negligent security claims. A negligent security claim can occur when the property owner had superior knowledge of the danger that hurt or injured the victim. In other words, the owner knew or should have known of the hazard that caused injury.
In the situation at hand, the article is silent as to whether: the male assailant was drunk at the time of the incident; the assailant had previously caused similar problems in the past at the restaurant or prior to on the day of the incident; the assailant was over served at the restaurant on the date in question; the victim reasonably requested the help of security or similarly situated employee at the restaurant as to the assailant before the incident and was denied and/or whether the assailant was an agent or employee of the restaurant. Certainly, there are many other questions that come to mind in trying to determine if the owner has any liability in this situation, including whether or not there were any security cameras that captured the incident.
If the victim can establish that the owner breached a duty and said breach proximately caused her injury, then the injured woman may seek recovery in court. However, premises liability and negligent security cases are generally fact specific and complex. And, the owner or operator of the property will surely deny liability and refuse to provide security camera or other evidence that is helpful to the victim. In fact, in some situations, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately to help safeguard important evidence from being destroyed, hidden or otherwise erased that could be used in court to successfully pursue the case.
The Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford represent clients throughout Georgia, including victims and their families who were injured in premises liability incidents. As such, the Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford is currently accepting slip and fall, trip and fall and negligent security cases throughout Georgia. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of the negligence or fault of an owner of property, then please contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately for a free consultation. Mr. Ford can help clients obtain monetary compensation necessary to pay for past, present and future medical care and provide for a fresh start. Please contact us today for a free consultation.