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Negligence: Duty to Protect from Third Parties-Known Third Person Exception

Defendant appealed the judgment entered following the jury’s verdict for plaintiff in his negligence claim alleging that defendant breached a duty to protect plaintiff from the criminal acts of a third party on defendant’s property. On appeal, defendant argued that the trial court erred in denying its JNOV motion because plaintiff failed to state a claim under the Known Third Person exception. Defendant also challenged the jury instructions, arguing that they effectively held defendant to a higher standard of care than required by law.

Where the jury instruction appropriately limited defendant’s alleged negligence to acts after the third party entered defendant’s property, it did not misstate the law under the Known Third Person exception, and plaintiff asserted a viable claim by submitted evidence of defendant’s knowledge of the third party’s prior criminal acts.

Burrell, J., dissenting: “Liska did not act in a dangerous or threatening manner until Harner yelled at her when he found her inside his car. It was undisputed that, prior to her arrival on Mercy’s premises at approximately 6:55 p.m. on December 23, 2015, Mercy did not know Liska and did not know of any dangerous propensities that she might have. Prior to her shooting of Harner, Liska did not engage in any verbal or physical altercations on Mercy’s premises.”

Judgment is affirmed.

Harner v. Mercy Hospital Joplin (MLW No. 79579/Case No. SD37266 – 38 pages) (Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, Gooch, J.) Appealed from circuit court, Newton County, LePage, J. William Ray Price, Jr., St. Louis, for appellant) (Joseph Winget, Springfield, for respondent)


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