Parents of victims testify in suit against McDonald's

Attorneys for the plaintiff (bottom) and the defense (top) sit in a courtroom at the Brazos County Administration Building during a civil suit alleging negligence against McDonald's on Friday.

The parents of Denton Ward and Lauren Bailey Crisp struggled on Friday to explain to a jury how profoundly their lives have been affected be the deaths of their teenage children nearly two-and-half years ago.  

While testifying as the plaintiffs in a civil suit against McDonald's, each of the three parents who took the stand was asked by their attorneys to recall the moment they found out their child was dead. 

Both Crisp's and Ward's mother's said they knew before anyone had actually told them. 

"The police don't come to your house unless somebody is dead," said the mother of 18-year-old Ward, Denise Whitaker. 

Nicole Crisp, the mother of Lauren Bailey Crisp, 19, who went by her middle name, said she was on her porch waiting for officers, having received a call to expect their arrival. 

As she was praying to God not to let her "worst thoughts be true," Nicole Crisp said, her "mother's instinct" insisted otherwise. 

Nicole Crisp and Whitaker, along with Paul Crisp, Bailey Crisp's father, are suing the University Drive McDonald's for negligence, claiming the restaurant failed to ensure necessary safety measures were in place for the protection of patrons.  

Plaintiff attorneys Chris Hamilton, Robert Langford and Jon Miller spent four days putting on evidence in an attempt to prove that had it not been for an assault at McDonald's that could have been prevented by practices such as onsite security, Ward and Bailey Crisp wouldn't have died after being in a car accident on the early morning of Feb. 18, 2012. 

Ward and Crisp, along with Tanner Giesen, 19, were being driven by Samantha Bean, 20, in Ward's 4Runner. The group was attempting to get Ward and Giesen to the hospital after they'd been severely beaten by a group of men at the McDonald's, according to testimony. 

The 4Runner was struck by another vehicle when Bean ran a red light at Holleman Drive, and shortly afterward Crisp and Ward were pronounced dead. 

Attorneys for the parents played video depositions from several College Station police officers who said, prior to the accident, they were regularly responding to the McDonald's between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. on the weekends where hundreds of people would be gathered after having left the bars. 

Jurors were presented on Tuesday with a list of more than 20 police incident reports of assaults, fights or disorderly conduct from March 2011 to January 2012 between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

When Bailey Crisp saw her boyfriend, Ward, on the ground as a group of men were beating him at the McDonald's, witnesses say the woman, who stood five-feet-two-inches, put herself into the situation to get him out of it. 

Knowing that one of his daughter's last actions was to try and help someone who needed it makes Paul Crisp proud, he said. 

"[Bailey] was the kind of person who always stood up for the weaker," said Crisp. 

Unlike many teenage daughters and their mothers, Nicole Crisp said she and Bailey Crisp had an open and honest relationship. 

"I felt honored she wanted me to know what was happening," she said. 

Whitaker, who said her son "was extremely good looking, and he knew it," told jurors Ward was witty from a young age and never failed to make her laugh. 

With Whitaker on the stand, plaintiffs' attorneys played an audio recording made by Ward his senior year of high school in which he thanks his parents for raising him with "love and care to take on the world." 

The Plaintiff lawyers rested their case after Whitaker's testimony, at which point the jury was dismissed until Tuesday. 

Next week, McDonald's lawyers, led by Marshall Rosenberg, are expected to call on experts to refute much of what the plaintiffs have argued and show jurors why the fast-food corporation should not be found responsible for the deaths.  

Recommended for you

(2) comments

Mollie

You have no idea of ALL the facts!! Stupid and irresponsible comment!! I would only say that I hope the students that frequent this McDonalds are made aware of the dangers that they can be faced with, based on facts that are supported by the number of police reports.

anneis

Hold on now, let's expand this silly lawsuit to even more extreme limits. If the bars had not closed, would the crowd have been there? Since TX law establishes liquor hours, sue the State. And what about those barrooms? Had they not been serving booze, could anyone have obtained any "hootch" from them? Sue the bars. They were in a vehicle on a public street then ran a red light = accident. Sue the automobile manufacturer, the car dealer, the City who owned the street, heck let's include the paving company also as well as the traffic light makers, installers and maintainers.

See how ridiculous this is as classic non-responsibility (not just irresponsibility). Well, I am off to sue the pencil company that made me misspell some words and the silverware company that manufactured the spoon that made me fat eating BlueBell ice cream.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.