Bethalto restaurant denies liability in parking lot injury; Says it did not compel kids to play football

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Feb 24, 2015

A Bethalto Mexican restaurant denies liability in a lawsuit alleging a minor broke his leg while playing football in the restaurant’s parking lot.

Heather Stevens, individually and on behalf of her minor son, filed the Sept. 12 lawsuit against Bethcor Inc. and La Lova.

According to the complaint, Stevens claims her son was playing football in the parking lot of the El Mezcal Mexican Restaurant in Bethalto in September 2012 when he fell and broke his right leg and ankle. She alleges the owners of the restaurant were aware of customers playing football in their parking lot on a regular basis and did not discourage it, the suit states.

Stevens alleges the owners of the parking lot, Bethcor, and the restaurant allowed ruts and pot holes to remain in the surface and failed to light the lot properly.

The defendants are accused of negligence for failing to keep the parking lot in a safe condition.

Bethcor filed a motion to dismiss on Nov. 6, denying that it was aware that patrons played football in the parking lot on a regular basis and arguing that the plaintiff failed to state a cause of action.

“The plaintiff fails to state a cause of action, on the basis that allegedly allowing a patron to play football on their parking lot, creates a legal duty or constitutes a negligent act,” the motion states.

The defendant states that alleging it knew patrons would play football does not create a duty or constitute negligence. Furthermore, there is no allegation that the defendant compelled the plaintiff to play football, the motion states.

On Dec. 8, Stevens filed a motion for default judgment against La Lova for failing to enter an appearance or answer the complaint.

Instead, La Lova was given extra time and answered the complaint on Jan. 28 denying the allegations.

In its affirmative defenses, the defendant claims the complaint fails to assert a valid duty on the part of La Lova.

It also argues that any alleged injuries are the result of the plaintiff’s own carelessness and negligence.

The plaintiffs seek more than $100,000 in damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering.

Gregory L. Shevlin of Belleville represents Stevens and her son.

Stephen C. Mudge of Reed, Armstrong, Mudge & Morrissey, P.C., in Edwardsville represents Bethcor.

Stephen C. Christiansen of the Law Offices of Rouse and Gary in St. Louis represents La Lova. It requests a jury trial.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 14-L-1252

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