Chris Pickett And Howard Trafman – Win Summary Judgment In Wrongful Death Case
Chris Pickett and Howard Trafman recently won summary judgment in a case involving a stabbing death at a fast food restaurant. The plaintiff’s estate alleged that the decedent was a restaurant manager who was stabbed to death by one of the employees on the overnight shift.
The plaintiff’s estate sued the franchisor as well as our client, a joint venture who owned the property and operated the franchise. We argued that the estate’s claim was barred by the exclusive remedy provision of the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act. The estate argued that an exception applied and the case should proceed. Specifically, the estate argued that there were disputed facts in the record to show that the employee attacked his manager for “purely personal” reasons, thus subjecting our client to liability beyond its role as the decedent’s employer.
Following the completion of oral discovery, the trial court granted our client summary judgment after finding that there was no evidence that the personal relationship between the two was the motive for the fatal attack. Essentially, there was no testimony or other evidence in the record establishing any motive for the attack, personal or otherwise. There was, however, a surveillance video of the attack showing the employees working to fill a drive-through order when one grabbed the kitchen knife and attacked his manager.
The court held that it was plaintiff’s burden to establish an exception and, because the record contained no facts to demonstrate the motive for the attack, summary judgment in favor of our client was appropriate as a matter of law.