(CN) – Target must pay $500,000 to a customer who got stabbed trying to help nab a shoplifter, the 10th Circuit ruled.
The Denver-based appeals court upheld a jury’s award for shopper Timothy Therrien, who sued Target for negligence after he was wounded by a knife-wielding shoplifter in 2005.
Therrien was shopping at a Target in Tulsa, Okla., when he saw a security guard struggling with a suspected shoplifter. Therrien said the guard “looked at me, I looked at him, and he said, ‘I’m store security. Please help me.'”
He jumped in to help restrain the suspect, who then pulled out a knife, stabbed Thierren in the abdomen and ran away.
The guard denied asking for Therrien’s help, saying he had told the customer to “back away.”
But a jury sided with Therrien and awarded him $500,000 in damages.
A three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit affirmed, saying the jury “could rationally find that a customer’s decision to enter the fray … was ‘reasonably foreseeable,'” and that Target was negligent in failing to prevent the customer’s intervention.
The court also upheld the $500,000 award as reasonable, even though it exceeded Therrien’s medical costs.
“Considering Mr. Therrien’s life-threatening injury, the invasive medical procedure needed to repair it, the pain he experienced, and his physical impairment during recovery, we cannot say that $500,000 is so excessive as to shock our conscience,” Judge Hartz wrote.