September 13th, 2018
US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinions
Smit v. SXSW Holdings, Inc.
Opinion Date: September 12, 2018
Judge: Thomas Morrow Reavley
Areas of Law: Personal Injury
After an intoxicated driver fled Austin police and knowingly accelerated through a closed city block during the South by Southwest Festival and killed four people, the family of one of the victims filed a wrongful death action against the festival organizers and the City of Austin. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants failed to adequately blockade the street and prevent the ensuing harm. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action for failure to state a claim under Texas law. The court held that plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege the SXSW defendants controlled the premises where the driver struck the victim. Therefore, the district court properly dismissed the negligence and premises-liability claims against the SXSW defendants for lack of duty. The court held that plaintiffs failed to allege any violation of a codified standard of conduct and thus plaintiffs' negligence per se claim was properly dismissed. The court also held that the district court properly dismissed the implied warranty and public nuisance claim. Finally, the City's immunity was not waived because plaintiffs have failed to state a valid premises claim.
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