Taylor v. Centennial Bowl, Inc.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtPETERS; TRAYNOR; McCOMB
Citation65 Cal.2d 114,416 P.2d 793,52 Cal.Rptr. 561
Parties, 416 P.2d 793 Charlotte Lee TAYLOR, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. CENTENNIAL BOWL, INC., Defendant and Respondent. L.A. 28847
Decision Date15 August 1966

Page 561

52 Cal.Rptr. 561
65 Cal.2d 114, 416 P.2d 793
Charlotte Lee TAYLOR, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
CENTENNIAL BOWL, INC., Defendant and Respondent.
L.A. 28847.
Supreme Court of California
Aug. 15, 1966.

Page 562

[416 P.2d 794] [65 Cal.2d 117] Hildebrand & McLeod, Oakland, and John B. Mestad, Los Angeles, for plaintiff and appellant.

Ball, Hunt & Hart and Douglas Dalton, Long Beach, for defendant and respondent.

PETERS, Justice.

Charlotte Lee Taylor brought this action for damages for her injuries sustained as the result of an assault committed upon her by a third person while she was an invitee on defendant's business premises. She alleged that defendant was negligent in failing to protect her adequately, as a patron, from a known danger. After both parties had submitted their evidence, the court

Page 563

[416 P.2d 795] granted a motion for a directed verdict in favor of defendant. Plaintiff appeals from the judgment based on that directed verdict.

On such an appeal the evidence most favorable to the plaintiff must be accepted as true. That evidence, as shown by the record, is to the effect that on Sunday evening, June 10, 1962, plaintiff drove to the Woodley Lewis Sportsman Bowl, a large bowling alley in Compton which is owned and operated by defendant corporation. For about four months prior to this date plaintiff had been participating in a bowling league that met there two nights each week. The bowling center had opened for business six months prior to the events herein described. It is located in Compton in an economically depressed area. The establishment consists of a large building which contains 32 bowling lanes, a coffee shop, a bar and cocktail lounge accommodating 100 patrons and a 'combo,' a billiard room, and a nursery. There are parking lots adjacent to the front and rear of the building.

When plaintiff arrived at the bowling center about 10 p.m., she parked her car in the lot at the rear of the building and locked it. She then went into the cocktail lounge where she spent most of the next four hours having two or three drinks with Mabel Evans, a friend whom she had previously arranged to meet there, a Danny Porter, a friend of Miss Evans. While plaintiff was at the bar, John Charles Walters, a man [65 Cal.2d 118] whom she had never seen before, approached her and said without encouragement from her, 'Hi, babe. Let me go home and go to bed with you.' Plaintiff rebuffed him and Walters left. About two hours later he again approached her and again requested her to go to bed with him. Plaintiff told him that she did not go to bed with men, and Walters walked away. At the time of her first confrontation in the bar with Walters, Don Bishop, a professional football player employed by defendant as a 'bouncer' was 'about four of five bar seats away.' She stated that at the time of the second confrontation Bishop was 'in the immediate proximity' within 'hearing distance.' Plaintiff testified that Walters did nothing to indicate that he intended to harm her, and that she felt no reason to be afraid of him, although she did report to Don Bishop that someone had acted offensively toward her.

Shortly before 2 a.m. when the bar closed, as plaintiff, Mabel Evans and Danny Porter were preparing to leave, Bishop said to plaintiff, 'Charlotte, don't go outside because that goofball is out there.' Plaintiff replied, 'Don, you know it's around 2:00 o'clock and I have to go home and go to work.' Bishop then walked with her to the door leading to the lot where her car was parked, and said, 'Good night, Charlotte, and please be careful,' and returned to the bowling alley.

Upon entering the parking lot, which was well lighted, plaintiff left Porter and Miss Evans and walked toward her car. When she reached the car she found Walters there, apparently waiting for her. He said, 'Did you understand what I said? Did I tell you to go home with me?' Plaintiff told him to 'go to hell,' and he ran at her and 'started cutting' her with a knife in the chest, abdomen and throat. She retaliated by slashing him across the face with a combination knife and nail file which she carried in her purse. When plaintiff turned to get in her car, Walters cut her in the back. Plaintiff then collapsed, one of the stabs having pierced her right lung.

As a result of this attack, plaintiff was taken to the hospital where she remained unconscious for six weeks. After regaining consciousness, her right arm became paralyzed, she could not move her legs, and she could not see. Plaintiff remained in various California hospitals until December 1962. From the time of the assault until the time of trial she was a ward of Los Angeles County. After trial plaintiff returned with her mother to Ohio, and it appears that she is now receiving care and aid from the State of Ohio. While plaintiff has partially recovered her sight, expert medical testimony,

Page 564

[416 P.2d 796] which is undisputed,[65 Cal.2d 119] established that the spastic condition of her extremities will remain permanent.

Plaintiff put Officers Robert Black and Stephen Ryer of the Compton Police Department on the stand. Officer Ryer testified that he was called to the scene immediately after the assault and made an investigation. Officer Black testified that he was in charge of the police records of all crimes and arrests at the bowling center during the six months prior to the attack on plaintiff. Through these police witnesses plaintiff sought to elicit evidence that during this six-month period, which commenced with the time the bowling center initially opened for business, defendant's business premises were habitually the scene of disturbances which required the police to intervene and to make frequent arrests. The defense objected to every attempt to introduce this testimony on the grounds that it was irrelevant, immaterial, and hearsay. The trial court sustained all of these objections.

Plaintiff made an offer of proof to the effect that Officer Ryer would testify that on ten or twelve occasions during the six months prior to the assault he had been called to the center 'to quell disturbances' and to transport to the police station 'various law violators,' who had already been arrested by officers who were working at the center. With respect to the testimony of Officer Black, plaintiff offered to prove 'that from the period of December 6, 1961 to and including June 10, 1962 police officers of the City of Compton * * * were called to the Woodley Lewis Centennial Bowl (sic) for alleged law violations a total of 273 times and made a total of 160 arrests * * *; that during that period police officers * * * were called on nine alleged assaults and mayhem violation and made four arrests * * *; that they were called 16 times to investigate alleged disturbances * * * during said period and made 8 arrests; * * * that they were called to investigate 95 alleged drunk charges during said period at the same place and made 95 arrests for drunkenness;

'And the witness would testify that of the balance of the 273 calls that were made and the balance of the 160 arrests that were made they were for * * * miscellaneous offenses which included traffic warrants, curfew violations, drug law violations, robbery, loitering and vagrancy, driving while intoxicated, hit and run accidents, gambling and possession of miscellaneous weapons.' Counsel stated that he was offering this testimony 'for the purpose of showing notice on the part of the defendant Woodley Lewis and the Centennial Bowl [65 Cal.2d 120] Corporation of many * * * law violations, including particularly assaults, disturbances, larcenies, (and) drunk violations * * *' that were taking place on their business premises.

Objections were made to both offers of proof by the defense on the grounds that such testimony would be irrelevant, incompetent and immaterial, and also on the ground that the questions called for hearsay. These objections were sustained.

Woodley Lewis, the real owner of the center, was called by plaintiff as an adverse witness pursuant to section 2055 of the Code of Civil Procedure. This witness testified, among other things, that he ran the center and set its policy; that parts of the center were open 24 hours a day; that he paid the city to assign offduty police officers to the center; that he also hired two 'floor men' or 'bouncers' to take care of any difficulties that might arise among the patrons; that a utility room at the center was used as a place to detain persons involved in disturbances or law violations; and that frequently the security officers had to evict troublemakers from the premises. When asked if he had seen patrons 'being bumped over the head with bottles' and 'hit with fists,' Lewis replied that 'I have seen some laceration, if you want to call it that.' He also stated that large numbers of people would frequently come to the bowling center after 2 a.m., when other bars and restaurants in

Page 565

[416 P.2d 797] the area closed; and that recently one of his bouncers had been cut on the nose by an obstreperous patron.

The defense called ten witnesses. Their testimony did not contradict plaintiff's claims that there had been disturbances at the center and that defendant had notice thereof, but did include statements which tended to contradict plaintiff's testimony about what transpired in the cocktail lounge preceding the assault on her.

Robert Ledet and William Dykes were called as rebuttal witnesses by plaintiff. They testified that at separate times, a few months before the assault on plaintiff, they witnessed assaults on the premises of defendant's establishment. Dykes' testimony concerned an assault upon himself by three youths while he was in defendant's parking lot at approximately 2:30 a.m. attempting to unlock his parked car.

The directed verdict was based on the theory that there was no evidence that defendant had violated any duty owed to plaintiff. It is the...

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  • Verdugo v. Target Corp., No. 10–57008.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • October 28, 2014
    ...from criminal activity of third persons that endangers such patrons on its premises. (See, e.g., Taylor v. Centennial Bowl, Inc. (1966) 65 Cal.2d 114, 52 Cal.Rptr. 561, 416 P.2d 793; Isaacs v. Huntington Memorial Hospital (1985) 38 Cal.3d 112, 211 Cal.Rptr. 356, 695 P.2d 653; Ann M. v. Paci......
  • Verdugo v. Target Corp., No. 10–57008.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • October 28, 2014
    ...from criminal activity of third persons that endangers such patrons on its premises. (See, e.g., Taylor v. Centennial Bowl, Inc. (1966) 65 Cal.2d 114, 52 Cal.Rptr. 561, 416 P.2d 793 ; Isaacs v. Huntington Memorial Hospital (1985) 38 Cal.3d 112, 211 Cal.Rptr. 356, 695 P.2d 653 ; Ann M. v. Pa......
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken of Cal., Inc. v. Superior Court, No. S051085
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • January 6, 1997
    ...has reasonable cause to anticipate such acts and the probability of injury resulting therefrom." (Taylor v. Centennial Bowl, Inc. (1966) 65 Cal.2d 114, 121, 52 Cal.Rptr. 561, 416 P.2d 793.) 1 We recognized in Taylor that a business proprietor is not an insurer of an invitee's safety. There ......
  • Tarasoff v. Regents of University of California
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 6, 1973
    ...and impose a requirement of positive action to defend the potential victim from harm. (See Taylor v. Centennial Bowl, Inc. (1966) 65 Cal.2d 114, 121-124, 52 Cal.Rptr. 561, 416 P.2d 9 In the vacated opinion of the Court of Appeal in People v. Poddar (103 Cal.Rptr. 84, hearing in Supreme Cour......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
114 cases
  • Verdugo v. Target Corp., No. 10–57008.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • October 28, 2014
    ...from criminal activity of third persons that endangers such patrons on its premises. (See, e.g., Taylor v. Centennial Bowl, Inc. (1966) 65 Cal.2d 114, 52 Cal.Rptr. 561, 416 P.2d 793; Isaacs v. Huntington Memorial Hospital (1985) 38 Cal.3d 112, 211 Cal.Rptr. 356, 695 P.2d 653; Ann M. v. Paci......
  • Verdugo v. Target Corp., No. 10–57008.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • October 28, 2014
    ...from criminal activity of third persons that endangers such patrons on its premises. (See, e.g., Taylor v. Centennial Bowl, Inc. (1966) 65 Cal.2d 114, 52 Cal.Rptr. 561, 416 P.2d 793 ; Isaacs v. Huntington Memorial Hospital (1985) 38 Cal.3d 112, 211 Cal.Rptr. 356, 695 P.2d 653 ; Ann M. v. Pa......
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken of Cal., Inc. v. Superior Court, No. S051085
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • January 6, 1997
    ...has reasonable cause to anticipate such acts and the probability of injury resulting therefrom." (Taylor v. Centennial Bowl, Inc. (1966) 65 Cal.2d 114, 121, 52 Cal.Rptr. 561, 416 P.2d 793.) 1 We recognized in Taylor that a business proprietor is not an insurer of an invitee's safety. There ......
  • Tarasoff v. Regents of University of California
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 6, 1973
    ...and impose a requirement of positive action to defend the potential victim from harm. (See Taylor v. Centennial Bowl, Inc. (1966) 65 Cal.2d 114, 121-124, 52 Cal.Rptr. 561, 416 P.2d 9 In the vacated opinion of the Court of Appeal in People v. Poddar (103 Cal.Rptr. 84, hearing in Supreme Cour......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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