Atlanta Personal Injury Attorneys Discuss Significance Of Recent Georgia Supreme Court Decision
The Georgia Supreme Court handed down a decision today that compels Six Flags to pay a massive sum to a man injured near the amusement park's property. A jury awarded a young man $32 million, and the state's highest court reinstated that verdict. The Georgia Court of Appeals had ordered a new trial, and the Georgia Supreme Court overturned that ruling. The State Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the case of Martin v. Six Flags Over Georgia. The case is terribly tragic but sets an important precedent for landowners to be aware of the dangers that could befall a visitor.
The young man was 19 years of age when he, his brother, and a friend went to the park to celebrate the acceptance of the friend into college. On their way home that night, the three young men were waiting for a bus around 9:00 p.m. While waiting, a large group of young men all dressed alike approached and were talking about getting into a fight. The three waiting for the bus left the park property and began walking away from the throng. Suddenly, and without any justifiable reason, four young men from the crowd set upon the 19-year-old victim and struck him in the head with brass knuckles and knocked him to the ground, then stomped on him. The young man suffered a permanent brain injury and was in a coma for seven days. The testimony at trial suggested the young man needed a $7 million home care plan.
Six Flags said it was not responsible for the damages caused by the attack. It argued that it could not be held liable for the young man's injuries because the attack did not occur on their property. The Georgia Supreme Court disagreed. The Court found that the only reason the attack occurred off of Six Flags' property was the young men had to leave the property to avoid confrontation. Also, the Court ruled that Six Flags should have done something to protect their visitors and they failed. The Court also said that Six Flags had a duty to protect their invitees from unreasonable risks.
Six Flags knew about the threat that group posed to the park's patrons and they did nothing to help and may have even tried to hide the problem from other park attendees. At least four people in the group were seasonal park employees. Earlier in the day, the gang members accompanied by a park employee threatened two families inside the park. Those patrons gave descriptions of the aggressors. For some unknown reason, Six Flags security failed to remove the group from the amusement park.
One of the reasons Six Flags remains liable for damages is that the park knew that their patrons are in danger at times from people in or near the premises. One year before the 19-year-old-boy was savagely beat by the four people from the group of 40, a shooting incident occurred in one of Six Flags' parking lots that are attached to the amusement park grounds. Multiple injuries were reported as a result of the incident. Naturally, the police began to investigate the crime. According to the Georgia Court of Appeals, Six Flags asked local police not to release any information about the attack because the release of such information would undermine Six Flags' marketing efforts to brand the park as family friendly and safe.
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