Cab company owner can't be held liable in Bloxom wrongful death - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Cab company owner can't be held liable in Bloxom wrongful death suit

Posted: Updated: May 16, 2012 04:47 PM CDT
Convicted sex offender drove a cab for Action Taxi, based in Bossier City, at the time of the murder. Prosecutors say he was driving the cab on the night he lured Justin Bloxom from a friend's house by posing as a girl via text message. Convicted sex offender drove a cab for Action Taxi, based in Bossier City, at the time of the murder. Prosecutors say he was driving the cab on the night he lured Justin Bloxom from a friend's house by posing as a girl via text message.
Brian Horn, 36, is facing trial for capital murder in the death of 12-year-old Justin Bloxom in March 2010. Brian Horn, 36, is facing trial for capital murder in the death of 12-year-old Justin Bloxom in March 2010.
Justin Bloxom, 12, was found murdered in the woods along Hwy 171 in Stonewall in March 30, 1010. Justin Bloxom, 12, was found murdered in the woods along Hwy 171 in Stonewall in March 30, 1010.
DESOTO PARISH, LA (KSLA) -

An appeals court has ruled that the owner of a Bossier City taxi cab business can not be held personally liable in the death of a Stonewall boy at the hands of a convicted sex offender and cab driver.

Brian Horn, now 36, was driving a cab for Action Taxi in Bossier City when police say he used text messages to pose as a girl and lure 12-year-old Justin Bloxom away from his friend's house on the night of April 20, 2010. His body was found the next morning in a wooded area along Highway 171 in Stonewall. He had been sexually assaulted and suffocated.

Horn was arrested and charged with first degree murder and faces the death penalty if convicted. A bench trial is tentatively set for August 2012.

Bloxom's mother filed a wrongful death suit in May 2010 against Horn, the City of Shreveport, the taxi cab corporation, it's insurance carrier and company owner David McFarlin as an individual. The suit claimed McFarlin knowingly hired a sex offender.

McFarlin asked the court to remove him from the suit, admitting that he did interview and hire Horn knowing he was a sex offender, but claiming he was acting only in his capacity as the president of Blue Phoenix Trading Company, d/b/a Action Taxi and should not be held personally liable.

Louisiana courts are reluctant to hold an officer personally liable for corporate obligations, and "piercing the corporate veil" is appropriate in only limited circumstances. 

Amy Bloxom opposed McFarlin's request for his removal from the lawsuit, arguing that he owed a duty to Justin, his mother and the public not to allow a known sex offender to operate a taxi. 

Arguing that McFarlin reportedly knew Horn was a sex offender Bloxom's attorney, Alan Stegall said McFarlin had a duty to protect the public from him.

"But also there's the City of Shreveport who issued a license. There's Mr. McFarland and his company that put him out on the streets so to speak", said Stegall.

DeSoto District Court Judge Robert Burgess ruled in McFarlin's favor, agreeing that the limited circumstances under which an individual could be held personally liable do not exist in this case.

Wednesday's ruling upholds that ruling, finding McFarlin's personal duty to take reasonable care in hiring cab drivers for his corporation did not extend to the risk of harm, however tragic, posed by Horn's status as a sex offender in this case.

McFarlin's company Action Taxi is still named in the pending lawsuit which includes the City of Shreveport, American Hallmark Insurance Company of Texas, and Brian Horn.

The civil case can not move forward until the pending criminal trial is resolved. Horn's capital murder trial is expected to start in August.

Read the appeals court's full opinion here.

Copyright 2012 KSLA. All rights reserved.

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