Texas: Female College Student Murdered by Convenience Store Assailant; Family Sues Store

Britney Buscaglia

A 20-year-old man murdered a 19-year-old female college student who had stopped at a convenience store on her way home from work to buy snacks. The college student, while at the convenience store, was approached by the 20-year-old assailant, who asked to use the college student's phone and for a ride. The clerk on duty at Defendant-convenience store interacted with the assailant for a period of time before the female student arrived, learning that the assailant had previously engaged in violent altercations earlier that evening. The college student ended up leaving the store with the assailant in her car, and thereafter the assailant raped, strangled, and set the female student's body on fire. Suit was brought against Defendant-convenience store for premises liability, arguing that the clerk knew of the assailant's recent violence and had the ability to remove him from the premises in a number of ways or follow store policies regarding customer safety. The defense maintained that the assailant was considered a customer, and that the female student had not complained that she felt bothered by the assailant. Further, the assailant did not act inappropriately toward other female customers. The suit comes as one of the first verdicts rendered in a case following the Texas Supreme Court's decision in Del Lago, a case concerning liability of premises owners for criminal acts of third parties.

Verdict: $8,022,324. The deceased was found 1% negligent; the assailant was found 71% negligent; Defendant-convenience store was found 28% negligent and ordered to pay $2,246,250.72.