Thrashed Bar Patron Can’t Sue Beer Baron

     EL PASO, Texas (CN) – Anheuser-Busch does not owe a duty to keep customers from beating one another with longnecked beer bottles, a Texas appeals court ruled.
     Marty Gann was celebrating a friend’s birthday “at a bar known for its violence” when another patron hit her twice in the face with a longneck bottle, “resulting in five lacerations and permanent scaring,” according to the 10-page decision.
     She sued Anheuser-Busch and its distributor for products liability, negligence and breach of warranty, but a Wichita County judge granted summary judgment for the defendant companies and dismissed both of Gann’s claims.
     The Eighth District of Texas Court of Appeals affirmed after finding that Gann failed to produce “a scintilla of evidence that the risk of the longneck bottle outweighs its utility,” or that it was defectively designed so as to render it unreasonably dangerous.
     Gann had pointed to the danger inherent in the design of longneck beer bottles, which she says make them the weapon of choice in the local community, as well as overseas. She also claimed that the longneck design serves no useful purpose, and is primarily cosmetic.
     But the three-judge panel found that Gann did not demonstrate whether it would be economically feasible for the beer giant to swap longneck bottles out for “stubby glass” or plastic bottles commonly used in stadium venues for concerts and professional sporting events.
     After dispatching with Gann’s design-defect claim, the court also rejected the negligence theory. She further claims that Anheuser-Busch was aware their bottles can be used as weapons, and they had a duty to protect her from such “reasonably foreseeable misuse.”
     “Gann posits that because Anheuser-Busch and Falls Distributing admitted that the use of longneck bottles as weapons in bars was certainly reasonably foreseeable, Anheuser-Busch and Falls Distributing had a legal duty to protect her from being assaulted in such a situation,” Justice Christopher Antcliff wrote for the court. “While we agree with Gann that it is reasonably foreseeable that a longneck bottle might be used as a weapon, she has failed to show why the general principle that no person has a legal duty to protect another from the criminal acts of a third person is inapplicable in this case.”

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