On Friday a Hinds County Circuit Court jury rendered a $2.5 million verdict for Linda Knox, a 62 year old woman who in 2007 was severely beaten in the parking lot of the Kroger Grocery Store on I-55 in northeast Jackson. Ms. Knox was hospitalized for two weeks following the attack and was permanently blinded in one eye. Her two attackers targeted older women in shopping center parking lots. Ms. Knox’s attorneys were Rocky Wilkins and Ashley Ogden of Jackson. Kroger’s attorney was Bill Luckett of Clarksdale.
Viewing the comments to the story on the Clarion-Ledger’s website , there is sympathy for Kroger’s defense, which the Ledger described as follows:
But Luckett said there was no way Kroger could have prevented "crazy, drugged out thugs" from carrying out the attack.
Luckett said one of those charged in the crime said they had driven around the parking lot looking for a female to snatch her purse.
"Look at it as an unfortunate event that happened on Kroger’s lot," Luckett said.
I’m going to argue the other side of the coin on this one. Businesses on the I-55 corridor in Jackson invite customers in and take their money, but never disclose that there is a history of crime activity in their parking lots. There are many purse snatchings and similar assaults in the parking lots of these businesses. Most do not make the news. Visit that Kroger and I promise you that you will never see a sign that says: "Warning! Crazy drugged out thugs beat up an old lady in the parking lot last week. Shop at your own risk." Businesses like Kroger should either disclose the crime history on their premises or provide protection for their customers.
To get a verdict in a premises liability case the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was on notice of a dangerous condition. Ms. Knox and her attorneys presumably met this burden. I doubt that Ms. Knox knew about the crime wave in the Kroger parking lot–most people do not. Kroger knows this and likes it that its customers do not know, otherwise they might drive out to the Wal Mart. The critics of this verdict would not give Kroger or another business their sympathy if they were attacked in the parking lot of a business with an undisclosed history of crime activity.