Negligent Security. In a recent case, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the owner of a grocery store was not liable for the on site shooting of an employee by her ex-husband.
In October 1997, Kay Newell was working at the Sack and Save grocery store-owned and operated by Southern Jitney Jungle Store-when her estranged husband, William Roderick, threatened her and caused a disturbance at the store. Newell's supervisor helped her file charges against Roderick. The next day, Newell was working behind a locked door, because of the previous day's events, when Roderick forced the door open and shot her four times.
Newell survived the attack and later sued the owners of Sack and Save for negligent security. Newell claimed that the store failed to provide her with a safe workplace. Newell claimed that Sack and Save should be held liable because the owners had actual or constructive knowledge of Roderick's violent nature and knew he was likely to attack Newell.
Sack and Save filed a motion to dismiss the case. The trial court granted the motion. Newell appealed.
Upon hearing the case, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed with the trial court and dismissed the lawsuit. Though it noted that Newell was not to blame for her attack, neither was her employer. In the written opinion on the case, the supreme court noted: "Clearly the intentional acts of Newell's estranged husband in entering the Sack and Save armed with a gun, forcing entry into Newell's office, and shooting at her are acts by a third party which are sufficient to terminate any liability Sack and Save might otherwise have." (Newell v. Southern Jitney Jungle Company, Supreme Court of Mississippi, No. 1999-CA-00024-SCT, 2002)