Subway sued after worker injured in shooting


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Subway, eat fresh.....and make sure you CCW if you happen to work there! Here's what stands out in article- there have been more than 100 assaults at Subway locations since 1991, 30 of which ended in death.
Subway sued after worker was injured in shooting

By Paul Frumkin

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (July 30, 2009) A lawsuit has been filed against Subway, the giant sandwich franchisor based in Milford, Conn., on behalf of a 17-year-old employee who was shot and wounded while working at a franchised outlet here.

The lawsuit, which was filed earlier this week at Palm Beach County Circuit Court, argues that Subway's parent company, Doctor's Associates Inc., is not doing enough to protect its employees.

The employee, Jakara Downes, was closing up for the night and getting ready to take out the garbage in the back of the restaurant when she saw three armed men waiting outside, according to her attorney, Richard Ryles. She shut and locked the rear door -- which was made of glass -- but one of the men fired a shotgun through the door and wounded her.

Ryles, who had filed a previous lawsuit against Subway on behalf of another employee who was shot at a different location, said Subway could do more to ensure the safety and security of its employees. He said there have been more than 100 assaults at Subway locations since 1991, 30 of which ended in death.

In a statement, Subway said: "We are thankful that Jakara Downes is recuperating from the injuries. The franchisee has cooperated fully with local law enforcement, and we are hopeful that they will be able to capture the persons responsible for this and bring them to justice.

"We are aware of the recent lawsuit filed, but are unable to comment on pending litigation," the statement continued.

The Subway franchisee, Four Florida Shopping Center Limited Partnership, has immunity under Florida's workers' compensation law and can be sued only for recovery of benefits, Ryles said.

The act of suing a franchisor, even when the event occurs in a franchised location, is a common legal tactic, said attorney David Worthen, a shareholder with the Washington firm of Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty and Bennett PA.

"Basically, the argument is that the actions of another should be held attributable to the franchisor," said Worthen, whose firm defends franchisors in similar cases. "In order for the plaintiff to be successful, he has to show that the franchisor asserts day-to-day control over the subject matter of the lawsuit."

Worthen indicated that it was uncommon for the courts to find in favor of the plaintiff in cases like this.

Earlier this year, two victims of a 2007 shooting in a Seattle-area Denny's filed a suit against family-dining franchisor and a franchisee, alleging that management failed to implement security measures that would have protected the diners.

In the Subway lawsuit, Ryles argues that the parent company exerts close control over its franchised locations, and was aware that it did not take the proper action to protect employees at the West Palm Beach location, even after it became aware that there had been "substantial criminal activity" in the area prior to the attack.

Ryles said he has not decided what damages he is seeking on Downes' behalf.

Contact Paul Frumkin at [email protected].

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