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First suit in biker gun battle casts restaurant as victim

A slogan typically associated with the National Rifle Association goes, "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." We aren't here to debate the merits of the statement or the relative value or danger of gun control efforts. Rather, the issue we look to address in this post builds off the second sentence in that phrase.

That people kill people is a given. That applies in Connecticut and every other state of the union. All you have to do is look at the recent tragic events at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, to appreciate that. In a gunbattle May 19 involving police and members of a number of rival motorcycle gangs, nine people died and another 18 were injured.

This surely is not something that most people would expect to happen on a night out. Indeed, when you meet up with friends or family at a restaurant, the expectation is that the landlords of the establishment have taken every precaution to make sure that patrons remain safe. If a foreseeable risk isn't addressed and results in injury, it should not be a surprise if a victim makes a claim against the property owners or operators.

But are those who suffer physical injury the only ones who might have a claim for compensation? It depends on the laws of a given state, but in the case of the Texas shootout, it seems the answer is no.

The first suit to develop out of the confrontation at Twin Peaks has a neighboring restaurant seeking more than $1 million. The Mexican eatery has been closed since that violent night. The operator plaintiffs allege that they suffered damage because the operators of Twin Peaks failed to exercise common sense and basic prudence.

The suit says Twin Peaks management didn't just allow the gangs to assemble, but specifically invited them and served alcohol. This despite repeated warnings from police that violence could erupt. When it did, the plaintiffs say, their customers became virtual captives as "thousands of bullet rounds were fired" by police and gang members.

It may be that this is a strategic move on the part of the plaintiffs to make sure Twin Peaks is held liable for any claims filed by customers of the Mexican eatery. At the same time, it shows that the scope of damage claims can be broad.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "First lawsuit filed from Waco Twin Peaks biker shooting," Carol Christian, May 27, 2015

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