Baptist Memorial Hospital v. Gosa (Ala., 1996).
RULE OF LAW: Hospital did not have a duty to protect P from third party crimes on the hospital's property because the hospital could not have reasonably foreseen probable criminal activity.
FACTS: Wright & Gosa (P), employees of BMH (D), are suing BMH for negligence, wantonness, and/or willfulness in failing to provide security. Wright was assaulted in the hospital parking lot (specifically she was shot in the stomach). Wright elected to and did receive Worker's Compensation Disability.
HISTORY: Trial Court ruled for both plaintiffs, and also denied BMH's motion for a directed verdict. BMH is appealing.
ISSUES(S): Does a hospital have a duty to P to protect from third party crimes on the hospital's property?
HOLDING: For the defendant; reversed. The hospital did not have a duty to protect P from third party crimes on the hospital's property because the hospital could not have reasonably foreseen probable criminal activity.
REASONING: The court concluded that there was not evidence of a special relationship in this case because the hospital was not forewarned about probable criminal activity and the plaintiff was not dependent upon the hospital to provide basic bodily protection. The court determined that this crime was not foreseeable by considering the number and frequency of prior criminal acts in BMH's parking lot. In this case there had been 57 criminal events in the last five years, but most of those events were mere thefts and were not violent crimes. Among the six crimes that involved a physical touching, only one (this one) involved a gun. This means that there is a per-year average of only 1.6 crimes involving physical touching. The court concluded that it could not be "reasonably foreseeable" that the assault in question would occur. Since the crime was not foreseeable, BMH had no duty to P to protect her from third party criminal acts.
DISCUSSION: Other issues, such as workers' compensation immunity and amending pleadings were discussed in this case.