In the Case of Poppe v. Angell Enterprises, Inc., 169 N.E.3d 408 (Ind.App., 2021) a Grocery store’s landlord, who was responsible for maintaining the store’s parking lot, owed no duty to a patron because the landlord could not have known or reasonably foreseen that its patrons would be struck by an intoxicated driver in the store’s parking lot.
The plaintiffs were walking back to their van through the store’s crosswalk when they saw an oncoming car. They tried to get out of the way, but were pinned against the car and their van. The plaintiffs’ negligence claim alleged that they were injured by a condition on the land, namely, the funneling of pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the crosswalk without protective features. However, the Court instead found that the plaintiffs were injured by criminal conduct of the car owner who was driving while intoxicated. The court then applied the Goodwin analysis. In Goodwin, the Indiana Supreme Court held that foreseeability as a component of duty turns on the type of plaintiff and harm involved, with regard to the facts of the actual occurrence. Using that analysis, the type of plaintiff was a grocery store patron using a crosswalk and the type of harm was a random intoxicated driver losing control of his vehicle and hitting the patron.
Furthermore, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that a drunk driver losing control of a vehicle was not as a matter of law sufficiently foreseeable to require a grocery stores duty to protect its patrons from this type of unfortunate incident.
This analysis by the Court in Poppe shows that the landlord had no duty to protect the customers from being struck by an intoxicated driver, precluding their negligence claim against landlord and grocery store. The court ultimately held that it was not a condition on the premises that caused the customers to be injured but a random criminal act that landlord could not have prevented.
If you or a loved one have been affected by an accident or death, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Hurst Limontes, LLC. We have decades of combined experience fighting for our clients in any number of personal injury claims. Call 317-636-0808 or email us for a free and confidential consultation.