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McDonald's Ordered To Pay $27 Million For Teens' Deaths

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - Lax late-night security at a Texas McDonald's will cost the owner of the fast food restaurant $27 million, after the death of two teens in 2012.

College students Denton Ward, 18, from Flower Mound, and Lauren Crisp, 19, of Dripping Springs, were killed shortly after stopping at a College Station McDonald's in the early morning hours of February 18, 2012.

Ward and another male friend were attacked in the McDonald's parking lot by a mob of 15 to 20 people.

When Ward's friends, including Crisp, loaded into a car to rush him to the hospital, the driver ran a red light and they were involved in a crash with a pickup truck.  Crisp was killed in the crash.

The teens' families sued McDonald's, claiming that the restaurant neglected to provide late-night security even though police had been called more than 20 times that year to break up fights at that location.

"We hope this verdict sends a powerful message to McDonald's and other companies that protecting customers is more important than late-night revenue," says attorney Chris Hamilton of Dallas' Standly Hamilton, LLP, lead trial counsel for the teens' families. "The night these two kids died, this was a dangerous location, and McDonald's knew it. Yet they did nothing to prevent their senseless deaths."

Hamilton argued that Ward was killed in the McDonald's parking lot.  Attorneys for the fast food restaurant argued Ward died in the crash that followed.

The $27 million verdict was awarded for actual damages.

McDonald's did not immediately return a call for comment.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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