Woman blames fall on dark parking lot at Texas Roadhouse

Marilyn Tennissen Jan. 7, 2014, 9:46am

A Texas woman has filed suit against a popular restaurant chain, claiming improper lighting caused her to fall in a dark parking lot. 

Janice Johnson filed suit against Texas Roadhouse Inc., Texas Roadhouse of Texarkana Ltd., Texas Roadhouse Management Corp. and Texas Roadhouse of Texarkana LLC on Dec. 30 in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas. Originally filed in Bowie County Court at Law.

Johnson, a resident of Three Rivers, claims she was injured when she slipped and fell at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Texarkana on Dec. 13, 2011, according to the suit.

“While on the premises … the evening turned to night and Plaintiff, having finished her meal in Defendant’s restaurant, exited the building and, en route to her vehicle, tripped over a car stop in the parking area that was not immediately or readily visible due to insufficient and non-operating exterior lighting elements and fixtures,” the original complaint states.

“Plaintiff’s head and body violently struck the hard-surface parking area resulting in injury to her face, eye and legs.”

Johnson is seeking a judgment against the defendant in a sum within the jurisdictional limits of this court, interest, costs and other relief.

According to the suit, Texas Roadhouse owed the plaintiff a duty to exercise ordinary care to keep the premises in a safe condition, including to provide lighting in darkened parking areas, to inspect the premises to discover defects and to make safe any defects or give an adequate warning of the dangers.

Texas Roadhouse has issued a general denial and proposes an affirmative defense.

“Defendant asserts that Plaintiff’s actions caused and/or contributed to Plaintiff’s injuries and damages,” court papers state. “Defendant therefore invokes the doctrine of proportionate responsibility …”

The defendant also pleads that “an award of exemplary damages would be improper because it would be a windfall that exceeds Plaintiff’s right to remedy for his injury by due course of law.”

Johnson is represented by George Matteson of Moore Giles & Matteson LLP in Texarkana, Ark.

Karl W. Koen, Robert J. Collins and Rachel Vulpitta of Gauntt Earl Binney & Koen LLP in Dallas are representing Texas Roadhouse.

The case has been assigned to Judge Michael Schneider and referred to Judge Caroline Craven for pre-trial proceedings.

Case No. 5:13-cv-00131

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