Joseph and Kathyn Bennett's deaths last September were tragic and completely avoidable. They died after being rammed by a van while eating at the Cheeburger Cheeburger in Amherst, NY with their 12-year old son Matthew.
Automobile accidents are bad enough, and pedestrian accidents are worse. But when you are completely innocent and assume to be in a safe and protected business establishment and then get rammed by a van, it comes as a shock – not just to those involved or present at the restaurant, but also the entire town and anyone reading about the tragedy.
The immediate and visceral reaction is to make sure those responsible are punished, and to ensure that it does not happen again. The latter has already been accomplished, with Amherst passing the requisite law within 2 weeks of the accident. All buildings used for commercial purposes in Amherst must have a protective barrier now.
But that won't bring back the Bennetts, and this is where it gets a bit tricky. Obviously the driver of the van – 74 year old Beverly Kasmore-Torbert, is one of the defendants in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by family members of the Bennetts (including the son, Matthew). But also included are the owners of the building and the restaurant.
BlvdCon LLC which owns the building is being held liable for the design, which requires cars to face the restaurant while parking. Cheeburger is being held liable because they did not have any protective barriers in place.
Lawyers for Cheeburger may have been able to slide out of it, citing that city laws did not require them to do so. But unfortunately for the restaurant, they did have a protective barrier for their dumpster. They just didn't think it was required for their customers. That should be reason enough to hit them with negligence. Not to mention the fact that the restaurant and building owner are better targets with deeper pockets, as compared to a 74-year old woman.