McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD), which was sued by the families of two teenagers who claimed that inadequate security arrangements at one of its Texas outlets led to their deaths, was asked by a jury on Wednesday to pay $27 million to the plaintiffs.
The College Station outlet in question was reportedly the scene of several fighting incidents, and the Illinois-based fast-food giant was sued in February 2012 by the parents of the teenagers, who claimed that the company’s outlet did not provide protection to its customers at the location, Bloomberg reported. Denton James Ward, 18, was beaten to death by a mob at the fast-food outlet while his girlfriend, Lauren Bailey Crisp, 19, died in a traffic accident as she attempted to transport Ward to a hospital.
The Texas state court’s jury awarded the Ward family $16 million while the Crisp family was given $11 million. McDonald’s spokesperson Terri Hickey said that the company will appeal the jury’s verdict.
“We respectfully disagree with the jury’s verdict,” Hickey said, according to Bloomberg, arguing that the award to the Crisp family could be contested as the 19-year-old Crisp was killed in an accident after she jumped a red light while taking Ward to the hospital.
The outlet where the teenagers were sitting had reportedly been the scene of several fights and authorities had responded to more than 200 calls of distress from the location over the past three years.
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“This was a dangerous location, and McDonald’s knew it,” Chris Hamilton, an attorney for the Crisp and Ward families, said, according to Bloomberg, adding: “Yet they did nothing to prevent their senseless deaths.”
“The verdict should stand up on appeal,” Hamilton said, adding that the families had never asked for punitive charges.
The verdict is the second legal setback for the company in two days. On Tuesday, the National Labor Relations Board had ruled that McDonald's could be held accountable for labor and wage violations committed by franchise operators.