ST. LOUIS - A $5.2 million jury verdict in a wrongful death and personal injury suit involving the collapse of a bar tent near Busch Stadium in 2012 has been affirmed by an appeals court.
In a ruling issued April 3, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District disagreed with points raised on appeal by defendant Kilroy Was Here LLC, owner of Kilroy’s Sports Bar, located at 720 South Seventh St. The defendant had claimed it did not have actual or constructive knowledge that its 40 foot by 60 foot tent was not reasonably safe and that there was insufficient notice that its tent did not comply with city ordinance requiring tents to be able to withstand 90 mph winds.
The underlying incident took place on April 28, 2012, following a noon St. Louis Cardinals game. Late in the afternoon, a severe thunderstorm developed in Central Missouri and moved east to southeast across the state toward St. Louis. High winds broke the tent free from its moorings, according to information in the ruling.
As a result, patron Albert Goodman was struck and killed and several others who joined in litigation with his surviving spouse were severely injured, including Janet Martinez, Kurt Volk, Kelly Hendricks, Barbara Estivo, John Desousa, Jeff Maxvill and Tammy Hinds. Their injuries included head lacerations, concussions, broken ribs and spines, collapsed lungs, fractured jaws and nerve damage.
The ruling states that the National Weather Service had issued warnings of the storm's approach and that local television stations interrupted programming with storm warnings, but that Kilroy did not warn its guests of the approaching storm or take any action to evacuate the tent.
Regarding its argument regarding the tent's ability to sustain 90 mph winds as required by ordinance, Kilroy claimed that city inspectors looked at the tent three times and issued an occupancy permit certifying that it was safely installed.
The ruling states that Kilroy relied on the testimony of a city building inspector who said he was unable to determine if the tent could sustain that level because he had no equipment to perform such testing.
"While these facts address Kilroy's installation of the tent, they do not relieve Kilroy of its duty to protect its invitees from the reasonably foreseeable dangers posed by this tent in a severe storm," the ruling states.
The inspector testified that when he reviewed Kilroy's permit and noticed it referenced a "garden/shelter," he told one of Kilroy's owners to "take out the word 'shelter' because the tent was not a stable structure, or shelter, and that in inclement weather, 'everybody should be dispersed'," the ruling states.