White Castle Dodges Liability in Cop’s Death

     (CN) – White Castle is not responsible for the 2006 shooting of an off-duty police officer by a fellow cop in the parking lot of one of its restaurants, a New York appeals court ruled.
     Police officer Eric Hernandez was off duty when five men attacked him inside a White Castle restaurant.
     Later that morning, Hernandez came out to the parking lot and held up his gun to a person whom he mistakenly believed had participated in the attack on him.
     A White Castle employee called 911, and police officer Alfredo Toro arrived on the scene. When Hernandez refused to put down his weapon, Toro shot him three times.
     Hernandez’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against White Castle, its security company, Toro and the city of New York.
     The trial court refused to dismiss the lawsuit against White Castle and Westec Interactive Security Inc.
     They appealed, and the First Department New York Appellate Division ruled that the lawsuit against them should also be dismissed.
     “Dismissal of the complaint against White Castle is warranted because decedent’s death was not a foreseeable result of any lapse in White Castle’s security,” the judges wrote in an unsigned opinion.
     They called the fatal shooting “extraordinary and not foreseeable or preventable in the normal course of events.”
     For similar reasons, the judges also ruled that Westec was not responsible for Hernandez’s death.
     “The occurrences in the parking lot after the initial assault constituted unforeseeable superseding or intervening conduct that severed the chain of causation between Westec’s alleged inadequate response to the triggered alarm signal and decedent’s death,” they added.
     However, the appellate judges agreed with the lower court that the plaintiffs can take Toro and the city to trial on their intentional tort and negligence claims.
     “The evidence presented raised triable issues as to whether Officer Toro acted reasonably under the circumstances,” they wrote.

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