“Mini Casinos” Cited In Wrongful Death Of Gas Station Clerk
Should gas stations be allowed to run casino games, slot machines, and video poker? On the one hand, as an American, you may believe that we should have the freedom to do as we choose. However, knowing that a convenience store that runs these games must have extra cash on-hand to pay out winnings, do you think that the convenience store should do more to protect their clerks from robbery?
A jury will be asked to answer this question after a clerk making barely above minimum wage was shot to death by a customer who used the convenience store’s gambling games. The customer attempted to rob the convenience store, and in the process, shot and killed the clerk.
Now, the clerk’s family is blaming the convenience store and the game manufacturers for creating an unreasonably dangerous environment for convenience store clerks. Such shootings and violent crimes are known to occur around convenience stores that run these games. Why? Because those who want to commit a robbery know that such stores have extra cash on-hand to pay out winnings. Hence, they become a target.
Does the convenience store have a duty of care?
Yes, but it’s a very confusing duty of care. In a case like this, one would expect a workers’ compensation policy to handle the issue. However, the problem for the business owner is that workers’ compensation policies only pay out for accidents. Further, the convenience store must have an active workers’ compensation policy. In Florida, this would be a given. However, the workers’ compensation insurer may deny the claim because intentional violence caused the injury or death.
Convenience stores and other employers have a duty of care to ensure the safety of their employees. However, just because there is an OSHA violation, it doesn’t mean that the employee can sue. In cases like this, an employer may argue that their workers’ compensation immunity should prevent the lawsuit. A judge would decide if the lawsuit can move forward. In some cases, an employer may actually file a lawsuit against their insurer if the insurer denies the claim.
Even if a judge rules that the personal injury lawsuit is barred by statute, the employer can face fines and citations from OSHA for failing to protect their employees for foreseeable danger. In a case where a convenience store keeps a lot of cash on hand, you would expect there to be more security than a single unarmed clerk.
A lawsuit like this could force convenience stores that operate games to have security on-premises or dedicate a single employee to operating the games. This could prevent future tragedies and clearly define the responsibilities of employers that operate games from stores.
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