JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - In a ruling last month, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed a $2.5 million award to a woman who was attacked and robbed in a grocery chain's parking lot.

Isaiah Robinson accosted plaintiff Linda Knox in a Kroger parking lot, punched her several times and took her purse.

Knox later sued the grocery chain, The Kroger Company and Kroger Limited Partnership, claiming it had a duty to place an armed guard in its parking lot and that its breach of that duty led to her injuries.

Kroger moved for a directed verdict and argued that the evidence was insufficient to support Knox's claim.

The Hinds County Circuit Court denied the motion, and the jury returned a verdict of $2.5 million.

Kroger appealed.

In its June 28 opinion, the state's high court said unless the grocer was on notice of an "atmosphere of violence" in its parking lot, it had no duty to place an armed guard there.

And because Knox failed to present sufficient evidence on this point, the Court said it must reverse and render.

"It is well settled that a property owner is 'not an insurer of an invitee's safety,' but owes only 'a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect the invitee from reasonably foreseeable injuries at the hands of another,'" Presiding Justice Jess H. Dickinson wrote for the Court.

"Here, Knox presented little evidence that Kroger was aware, or should have been aware, of any violent attacks in its parking lot. Instead, Knox showed only that Kroger knew of three purse-snatchings and an incident of a purse stolen from a car. There were no violent attacks similar to the attack suffered by Knox."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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