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Goodwin v. Yeakle's Sports Bar & Grill, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 25, 2015

April Goodwin, Tiffany Randolph, and Javon Washington, Appellants-Plaintiffs,
v.
Yeakle's Sports Bar and Grill, Inc., Appellee-Defendant

Appeal from the Grant Superior Court. The Honorable Jeffrey D. Todd, Judge. Cause No. 27D01-1105-CT-400.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS: Joe Keith Lewis, Marion, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: James J. Shea, Sr., Timothy W. DeGroote, Andrew S. Williams, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Najam, Judge. Mathias, J., and Bradford, J. concur.

OPINION

Page 311

Najam, Judge.

Statement of the Case

[¶ 1] This case presents yet another opportunity for Indiana's appellate courts to clarify the Indiana test for determining whether a duty exists in a negligence action, an issue that has created confusion at every level of our judiciary. There are two tests in Indiana. First, if a duty is well-established in our case law, and the case before the court is substantially similar to that case law, then that duty applies. If, on the other hand, the case before the court presents facts and circumstances that have not been addressed in prior decisions of Indiana's appellate courts, then in determining whether a duty exists, we must balance the three factors articulated in Webb v. Jarvis, 575 N.E.2d 992, 995 (Ind. 1991), including the reasonable foreseeability of harm to the person injured.

[¶ 2] Here, April Goodwin, Tiffany Randolph, and Javon Washington (collectively " the Appellants" ) filed a complaint against Yeakle's Sports Bar and Grill, Inc. (" the Bar" ) alleging that the Bar was negligent when it failed to protect them from criminal acts committed by Rodney Carter on the Bar's premises. The Bar moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted that motion following a hearing. On appeal, the Appellants raise a single issue for our review, namely, whether the trial court erred when it entered summary judgment in favor of the Bar.

[¶ 3] The parties dispute whether a duty existed concerning whether the Bar could have reasonably foreseen Carter's criminal acts. But the facts demonstrate that this is a straight-forward premises liability case, and the duty in such cases is well-established in our case law. As such, reasonable foreseeability is not part of the analysis with respect to the Bar's duty. As this was the only argument raised to the trial court and was the basis of the court's entry of summary judgment for the Bar, the trial court's entry of summary judgment was erroneous as a matter of law. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶ 4] During the early morning hours of August 28, 2010, Goodwin, Randolph, and Washington were socializing with friends at Yeakle's, a small bar in Marion. Carter and his wife were also there, and they

Page 312

were positioned near Washington and the others. At some point, Carter thought he heard Washington make a derogatory remark about Carter's wife, and Carter shot Washington.[1] Carter separately, and accidentally, shot Goodwin and Randolph.[2]

[¶ 5] The Appellants filed a complaint against the Bar alleging that it was negligent in providing a safe place for their patrons to socialize as follows:

a. By negligently failing to provide security for its patrons;
b. By negligently failing to search Rodney Carter ...

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