In February 2012, Denton James Ward, aged 18, was beaten to death by a mob at a McDonalds. Ward’s girlfriend subsequently died in a traffic accident while attempting to take Ward to the hospital.
The families of both teenagers sued McDonald’s claiming that the restaurant failed to protect its patrons at the College Station Texas location. The families alleged that McDonald’s was aware of problems at that location as local police were repeatedly called to break up fights at the restaurant.
Ward and his girlfriend had stopped at the McDonald’s and were walking through the parking lot when they were attacked by a mob. The teens’ families claimed that McDonald’s should have been aware of the situation and that more security should have been provided to the restaurant as the police had been called more than 20 times in the year leading up to the teens’ deaths. Despite the history of violence at the location, McDonald’s never hired any security personnel and did not install any security video cameras to assist in protecting customers.
During the trial, which lasted for six days, witnesses testified that Ward died in the parking lot after being kicked and stomped by 15 to 20 attackers, while McDonald’s claimed that Ward died in the car wreck on the way to the hospital and that the company wasn’t responsible for his safety.
Also during the trial, College Station Police officers testified that they were regularly called to the location to break up fights and large crowds on weekends.
After the evidence was presented, on July 30, 2014, the Jury returned a verdict in favor of the victims’ families for $27 million. According the attorney for the families, punitive damages were never requested.