E. Tex. Theatres, Inc. v. Rutledge

453 S.W.2d 466 (Tex. 1970)



A theatre is under a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of its patrons. However, operators of theatres are not insurers of their patrons' safety.


A theater patron and her spouse attended a midnight show at a theater owned and operated by a theater owner. During the movie, the theater owner failed to remove or control certain rowdy individuals in the balcony. As the couple were leaving, the theater patron was hit in the head by a bottle thrown from the balcony. The couple brought a negligence action against the theater owner for injuries sustained. Based on jury findings, the trial court entered judgment for the couple, which the court of appeals affirmed on appeal. The owner challenged the judgments with the Supreme Court of Texas. 


Was the theater owner liable to the couple based on negligence? 




The court reversed the lower courts' judgments, holding that there was no evidence to support the jury's finding that theater owner's failure to remove rowdy persons from its theater was a proximate cause of the theater patron's injuries. There was no proof that the bottle would not have been thrown but for theater owner's failure to remove the rowdy persons, and there was no evidence that the bottle was thrown by one of the rowdy persons. The court held that while the theater owner was under a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of its patrons, it was not an insurer of its patrons' safety.

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