The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Wednesday that the pastor of a youth ministry and his landlords were not liable for patrons who were shot on Christmas Eve 2011 just outside the downtown church.

RELATED LINK | TN Court of Criminal Appeals Opinion

A Christmas Eve event wrapped up just 15 minutes shy of the city's curfew after rival gang members began to fight inside.  All of the patrons -- as many as 400 people -- were forced to exit the building, according to the opinion.

Shortly after, gunfire erupted outside of Mosaic Church,which ran the youth ministry known as Club Fathom.  At the time of the church was located at 412 Market Street.

A total of nine people were injured after a few teens opened fire a block away.

Five of those shooting victims filed a lawsuit in Hamilton County Circuit Court seeking damages.

The state Court of Criminal Appeal ruled that the building owners and youth ministry Pastor Tim Reid were not liable for injuries from the shootings, because the shootings happened adjacent to the club, not on the property.

 The opinion states that Club Fathom has no obligation to protect patrons from a third party off its property.

The plaintiffs in the suit argued the venue had a history of violence and that the risk of patrons getting injured was foreseeable because the ministry targets at-risk youth, including rival gang members.  

The suit also says the ministry should have protected the patrons who were minors.

However, the opinion ruled, “since it is undisputed that plaintiffs were no longer on business premises at the time of the tortious act, the trial court erred in determining that the defendants owed them a duty of care.”

The case will now return to Hamilton County  Circuit Court to determine if the property owners were negligent in leasing the premises to Club Fathom due to the multiple altercations and crimes that had previously occurred there. 

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