Jury Finds Hennen's Restaurant Not At Fault In $25 Million Lawsuit Brought By Lisa Barnes

Wednesday, February 05, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

A Circuit Court jury on Wednesday afternoon found Hennen's Restaurant not at fault in the $25 million lawsuit brought by Lisa Barnes.

The jury in the courtroom of Judge Neil Thomas delivered the verdict at mid-afternoon after starting deliberations after lunch. The decision in the highly-emotional case came at the end of a trial that lasted over a week.

Attorney Mark Warren said in his closing statement in the civil suit against Hennen's Restaurant, "It doesn't take two medical examiners to tell us that only two people with impaired judgment would go and lay down on railroad tracks."

He told the jury there were two major rules that had been broken. He said a 27-year-old man should never serve alcohol to a minor and that a restaurant should not serve anyone underage.

He said that on the surveillance tape from when Hannah Barnes and Michael Hennen went to Walmart after leaving Hennen's, they both were visibly intoxicated. He pointed out that Hannah was playing with a beach ball and that Michael had some difficulty using an ATM.

He also told the jury what he believed Lisa Barnes, the mother of Hannah Barnes, should be awarded in damages. He included Hannah's lifetime of lost future wages and said she should also be compensated for the horror she experienced on the train tracks.

Attorney Al Henry spoke in defense of Hennen's Restaurant. He said, "This case is built upon speculation."

He said, "Some lawsuits need to be filed. Some don't." He told the jury this lawsuit was like "reopening a wound and pouring salt in it," as the Hennens lost a child as well. He called it, "cruel, wrong, and only for money."

He asked, "Do you think it will bring them back?"

He told the jury that the Hennens had fully cooperated with police throughout the investigation and had the same interest in finding out what had happened as Hannah's family.

He said Hannah had been fighting with her mother about money, so the Hennens even helped her out by giving her a $150 tip during her shift that night.

He stated that ultimately, Hannah and Michael were both adults. He said, "You don't have to be 21 to know that it's dangerous to be by a railroad track." He said they made a poor choice and did something dangerous, but that their death was accidental.

In his rebuttal, Attorney Warren mentioned wine samplings that the employees of Hennen's had been allowed to participate in. Underage employees could taste but they had to spit it out. However, Attorney Warren said even this was against the law.

He said, "What they should be doing at these wine samplings is stressing the importance of being 21 and why we have a law like that in Tennessee."

He told the jury to make a stand, saying, "You can turn this into a legacy. No more underage drinking in the restaurants, in the bars in Chattanooga."


Fort Oglethorpe Arrest Report For Nov. 14-20

Here is the Fort Oglethorpe arrest report for Nov. 14-20: Eric Brandon Carden, 22, of 192 Madgabend Road, Rossville was arrested November 13 on charges of driving while license suspended and operation of unregistered vehicle.   Michael James Dodd, 42, of 94 Cross Street, Fort Oglethorpe was arrested November 14 on a charge of shoplifting.   James ... (click for more)

Jerry's Cabinet Shop Damaged By Fire

Jerry's Cabinet Shop went up in flames on Friday evening. There were no injuries, but the business on Dayton Pike sustained $100,000 in damage, according to Chief Mike Guffey of the Soddy Daisy Fire Department. People were working in the cabinet shop Friday, but no one was in the building at the time of the fire. It was reported a  neighbor behind the building ... (click for more)

Don't Allow Us To Be Overrun By People Who Do Not Belong Here - And Response (5)

Thank you, Senator Corker, for your clear, concise evaluation of the president's attempt to bypass Congress and personally and independently establish national policy that violates our current immigration laws.   Our long-standing failure to enforce our laws to control illegal immigration across our southern border has made this country less safe and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Quick! Arm Our Guards

When I learned last Wednesday that Chattanooga’s leading hospital, in a ridiculous attempt to be more “family friendly,” planned to disarm its security guards. I was aghast but decided to wait for the proper “incident” to illustrate how stupid members of our “free thought society” can sometimes be. It took exactly one week. A bit after midnight on Thursday morning a gunman appeared ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Cruises To Another Playoff Victory, 48-7

The Notre Dame football express continues to roll on down the track and it appears the Fighting Irish are just picking up a little bit more steam. Facing a 10-2 McMinn Central in the quarterfinal round of the TSSAA Class 3-A football playoffs at spacious Finley Stadium, Notre Dame did what they've been doing all year -- scoring early and often while limiting the other team to ... (click for more)

Irish QB Darras Dazzles Chargers With Passing Show

Film sessions all week didn’t do McMinn Central much good in Friday’s TSSAA Class 3A quarterfinal playoff game against hard-charging Notre Dame. “We knew they were a good ball team from what we saw on film,” Chargers coach Josh Goodin said. “But the films didn’t do them justice. We couldn’t matchup with them.” It was obvious from the start. The third-ranked Irish ... (click for more)