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Manning & Kass Successfully Defends Judgment In Favor of Major National Drug Store

Los Angeles Partner Jeffrey M. Lenkov and Senior Counsel Robert P. Wargo, with assistance provided by Associate Derik A. Sarkesians, have successfully halted a recent lawsuit against a major national drug store chain in its tracks, affirming on appeal a judgment entered following a successful demurrer, thereby avoiding trial or settlement process. The plaintiff, who was attacked while jogging in a public alleyway at 11:30 PM, after our client's store had closed for the night, alleged that the store had a duty to sufficiently illuminate the public alleyway behind the store, and that its failure to do so caused the crime to be committed against her. In the drug store chain's demurrer, prepared by Mr. Wargo, it argued that it had no duty to protect plaintiff, as she was not a customer at the time of the incident, and that it had no duty to illuminate the adjoining public alley. The trial court concurred, and entered a judgment in favor of the drug store chain. The Court of Appeal, finding no merit in the plaintiff's position, affirmed the judgment.

This early days victory comes in response to a particularly aggressive plaintiff, whose complaints and appeal threw every possible argument in the book at our client, supported by a litany of case law. The appellate brief prepared by Mr. Wargo on behalf of our client exposed the fundamental flaws in plaintiff's legal arguments. Although plaintiff repeatedly maintained the  drug store chain had a duty to illuminate adjoining public property, the Court of Appeals was not persuaded, stating: “This cannot be and is not the law, as the power to control public streets and assure public safety lies with the state and municipalities, not private businesses and landowners.”

Robert P. Wargo practices on the Strategy, Writs, and Appeals Team and has extensive experience handling civil litigation and appellate matters. Jeffrey M. Lenkov is the leader of the firm’s Retail, Restaurant, and Hospitality Team and the senior partner on the case. As panel counsel to many of our retail and entertainment clients, he has defended a myriad of high-profile cases in these industries, ranging from employment, wrongful death, catastrophic loss and injury, as well as major class actions. Derik A. Sarkesians is a member of the Retail, Restaurant, and Hospitality Team and he regularly defends matters involving premises liability, products liability, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury/catastrophic injury, and insurance defense.

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