Big Firm Experience. Small Town Care.

Why McCarthy Law Office? When you need a lawyer, you need the best. For 25 years Scott McCarthy has helped people with family issues, litigate contract disputes, recover losses from injury and wrongful death and manage their mistakes. He is an experienced attorney who knows the system.  He has the passion, breadth of experience and knowledge, that gives his clients their best possible results. Scott has a reputation for sharp, honest evaluations, calling people back promptly, being on time to meetings and court appearances, meticulous preparation for trial and his desire to see their case through so his client's lives can continue on their best possible course forward.

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Are you kidding me?

Tell me if this would have happened in 1950. Brian Peters entered a Menards store in La Crosse, Wisconsin. A security guard saw Brian take a drill and put it in his shopping cart. Brian took the drill into the lumberyard and put the drill in the back seat of his truck.

The security guard watched Brian and then confronted him at the exit. The security guard could see the drill in the back seat of the truck. Brian denied knowing anything about the drill. The security guard then requested that Brian return to the store with him. Brian jumped out of the vehicle and began running.

The security guard chased Brian for about seven minutes until Brian ran into a flooded marsh area toward the La Crosse River. The guard then heard splashing and ran toward the river. Apparently the guard attempted, unsuccessfully, to rescue Brian. Unfortunately, Brian Peters drown.

Brian Peters' estate, widow and children sued Menards and the security company contending that their negligent conduct caused Brian's death. The defendants (Menards and the security company) requested that the case be thrown out because they were immune from liability under Wisconsin Statute 943.50(3) and because Brian's negligence was equal to or greater than the negligence of the defendants. The trial court granted the defendants request and the matter ultimately ended up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Wisconsin Statute 943.50(3) immunizes a merchant or its agents for detaining a person so long as the statutes' three reasonableness requirements are met:

  1. There is reasonable cause to believe that the person stole property.
  2. The attempt to detain is done in a reasonable manner.
  3. The detention only lasts a reasonable length of time.

Brian's family contended that the word "detain" did not include pursuit off of the merchant's property. The Supreme Court disagreed stating that if "detained" did not include pursuit, it would invite shoplifters to flee, increasing the risk of harm to merchants and their customers.

The Supreme Court went on to find that Brian's negligence exceeded any potential negligence of the defendants. The Supreme Court found that anyone jumping into a plainly flooded river with fast-moving current is the only one responsible for the consequences. As the outlaw Josey Wales once said, "A man's got to know his limitations." Lawyers should too.