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McDonalds not responsible when employee beats disabled child

The Court of Appeals recently held that a local McDonalds owed no responsibility to the mentally challenged victim-customer who was beaten by an employee.  The victim was allegedly attacked verbally by the employee.  He then reported the incident, including the employee's threat to "kick his ass", to the manager on duty.  The manager left the employee at his work station after the employee claimed to have calmed down, however, moments later the employee attacked the customer, he had to be "pulled off" the victim and police had to be called.

The victim claimed that the restaurant had failed to act reasonably in response to the employee's original threat, however, the Court upheld a dismissal of the victim's claim.  It relied on a previous decision of the "Engler majority" of the Michigan Supreme Court which had failed to hold an employer responsible for a rape committed by one of its employees. In the latter Brown  v. Brown decision, the Engler majority had held that the employer was not responsible for the rape, even though it was aware of the employee's lewd remarks to the victim, because they did not convey "an unmistakable, particularized threat of rape".  By that standard, the court in the instant case held that the local McDonalds could not be judged by a reasonable standard of whether the manager's actions to protect the customer were adequate.

So, the bottom line in Michigan is that a corporation doesn't have to protect you from its employees unless the employee goes beyond known harassment and threats and actually makes what an insurance-protective court deems to be an "umistakable, particularized threat" which is more definitive than simply declaring an intent to "kick your ass".

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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