Huddle House appeals lawsuit ruling

DTL Staff

As expected, the former owners of the Huddle House restaurant in West Point have asked the state Court of Appeals to review a judge’s refusal to drop a lawsuit against it on legal grounds.

Columbus attorney John Brady, who represents Litco Petroleum, filed the request for interlocutory appeal Friday.

On Feb. 11, Circuit Court Judge Lee Howard denied Litco’s request for summary judgement in a lawsuit brought by the conservator for Ralph Weems IV and David Knighten over an assault in the restaurant parking lot early on the morning of Aug. 23, 2014.

Both Weems and Knighten were seriously injured and Weems remains in need of 24-hour-a-day care.

Litco argued the two men and their friend became trespassers when they were asked to leave the restaurant after they became disruptive, used racial slurs, and got into a fight with other customers. As trespassers, the restaurant did not owe them a duty to protect them once they left the restaurant and it couldn’t be held responsible for their injuries under existing state case law, Litco argued.

Furthermore, the restaurant was not a known place of violence or danger which would have made it more liable for damages.

Weems and Knighten countered the case has a number of facts in question that should go to a jury to decide who had a responsibility for what.

In his ruling, Howard agreed.

The case is set for a two-week trial in early May.

In the motion to the Court of Appeals, Litco argues that allowing the judge’s ruling to stand would cause confusion with competing rulings by other courts in the state.

Lawyers for Weems and Knighten have 14 days from Friday to respond to Litco’s request.

Then the court will decide whether enough legal issues are in question to warrant review. If it doesn’t, the case will return to Clay County for possible trial.