Rachel Myrick may not have had the ideal dining experience but she may have the good lawsuit against the Longhorn Steakhouse in Fredericksburg Virginia after being bitten by a highly venomous copperhead snake while walking into the restauraunt.
Myrick told Chron.com that she was walking into the Longhorn Steakhouse on Sept. 12th when she felt a sharp pain in her left foot. She found an eight-inch snake still attached to her foot. The fortunate thing in an otherwise unfortunate situation is that her boyfriend Michael Clem used to breed snakes and correctly identified the snake for emergency and medical personnel as a copperhead. Later swelling prompted the use of the potentially dangerous treatment regimen for such bites and days of hospitalization.
The accounts indicate that Myrick was on the property of Longhorn when bitten but may not have been in the structure itself. That could be a critical distinction. Businesses are not always liable for wild animals but may be liable for negligence if they had prior notice or problems with such animals and their guests.
Under the common law, there is strict liability for injuries caused by wild animals in your possession. However, that would raise the question of whether these alligators are in the legal possession or control of Disney since they occupy the lake. This was the issue in Woods-Leber v Hyatt Hotels of Puerto Rico (1997), Hyatt was found not to be strictly liable for an attack on its grounds by a rabid mongoose on a guest. It was not viewed as possessing the animal since wild animals could move freely on to the property. The same issue came up recently in the United States in the case of the woman who had her face ripped off by a neighbor’s pet chimpanzee and a case in Arizona involving a javelina. Likewise, we recently discussed his issue with an alligator attack on a Disney property. Assuming that the alligators were viewed in the same way as the Woods-Leber case, there would remain a powerful case of negligence. There is the added burden according to invitees on a business property and the duty to fully warn and make safe the property from known and latent dangers.
It is often difficult to gauge the basis for such legal action until you are in discovery to confirm prior incidents and the precautions taken on such risks. Rural areas often have wildlife in the area that are not legally under the dominion and control of businesses. It is also not clear if this was a wild snake or a possible release by another individual (creating the possibility of an superseding intervening actor in the causal chain).
Myrick was in the hospital for five and a half days taking IV nausea medication and pain treatments.