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Kroger on hook for $81M after customer shot and paralyzed

A Georgia jury awarded $81 million to a customer of Kroger who was robbed and shot multiple times in the parking lot in January 2015. The store had acknowledged the need for a dedicated security officer in the parking lot, but chose not to assign one.

Plaintiff, a 27-year-old Navy veteran, went to the Kroger shopping center located at 1160 Moreland Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia to purchase some items from Kroger and to transact business with the Western Union located inside the Kroger.  After parking in the Kroger parking lot and exiting his vehicle, the Plaintiff was robbed and shot multiple times and his car was stolen.  Defendant Norred & Associates was the interior security service on-site at the time of the shooting; however, the Norred guard was inside the Kroger at the time of the incident. 

Plaintiff contended that before the plaintiff’s incident Defendants acknowledged the need to place a dedicated security officer in the parking lot, but chose not to and delayed implementation.  Kroger’s internal crime analysis also gave the subject location the highest levels of “crime threat” based on its own internal rating system.  Without reasonable justification, Kroger delayed implementation of its own acknowledged need for parking lot security until February 2015, a month after Plaintiff was shot. 

Two weeks before Plaintiff was shot, a Kroger stocker was approached by a young man (the person who would later shoot Laquan Taylor) in the parking lot, who asked him for money.  The employee testified that he had seen this young man loitering in the parking lot before.  Plaintiff alleged and proved multiple other acts of negligence.   

Plaintiff exercised ordinary care and diligence at all times herein and under the circumstances then existing.          The security was negligently understaffed and inadequate in type, quantity, and measures, and the property was in a high-crime area. 

Defendants denied liability and blamed the third-party assailants.  Defendants asserted the Plaintiff was not entitled to recover any damages from Kroger because Kroger breached no duty owed to Plaintiff and proximately caused none of Plaintiff’s claimed damages. 

Plaintiff suffered multiple injuries, including paraplegia.  Plaintiff was transported via ambulance from the scene to Grady Hospital where he remained for two months.  After discharge from Grady, Plaintiff was transferred to the Shepherd Center where he underwent inpatient rehabilitation for two months.  After discharge from Shepherd, Plaintiff was transferred to the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, Florida for extended inpatient treatment.

JURY VERDICT:  The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiffs in the amount of $81,000,000.00 in compensatory damages.  The jury apportioned 86% of the fault to Defendant Kroger and 14% of the fault to the two non-party shooters, resulting in a net verdict of $69,660,000.00 in favor of Plaintiff.  The Court granted Defendant Norred & Associates, Inc.’s motion for directed verdict.