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Gas Station Isn’t Liable for Customer Shooting

(CN) - A gas station is not liable for the actions of an employee who accidentally shot a customer with his personal gun, a Texas appeals court ruled.

Patrick Chang operated a Texaco station in Frankston, Texas, for owner Herman Glass. A customer asked Chang if he sold bullets. Chang responded by a retrieving a pair of his personal guns to show the customer. He then started playing around, drawing his gun as if he were in a Hollywood Western.

Chang accidentally shot Gary Williams, who had entered the store to buy a hot dog. The bullet remains in Williams' spine to this day.

A jury awarded Williams $750,000 for negligence against Chang, Glass and Glass Texaco Distributors. Chang did not appeal, but Glass and his company did.

Glass argued that Chang was operating outside of his duties as a Glass employee when he shot Williams.

Williams argued that Glass is liable because Chang was doing his job in being friendly toward customers when he was showing his gun to the customer. Judge Worthen of the Tyler-based 12th Appeals District disagreed.

"Chang ceased to act for Glass when he went to the back and retrieved his personally owned gun to show customers who happened to be in the store," Worthen wrote. "From that moment on, he clearly departed from the service of Glass, and he was engaged in an affair wholly his own."

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