- Associated Press - Thursday, June 4, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The Oregon Court of Appeals has revived a lawsuit filed by the family of a Peruvian teenager killed in a mass shooting outside a downtown Portland nightclub.

The lawsuit filed by the estate of Martha Paz de Noboa Delgado says the owner of The Zone knew the underage club was in an area prone to violence and didn’t do enough to make the premises safe.

A trial judge previously dismissed the lawsuit after agreeing with defendants that the attack was a random, unforeseeable shooting by a mentally disturbed individual.

The appellate court, in a 2-1 decision Wednesday, decided a jury might find it reasonably foreseeable that guests waiting in line would be exposed to criminal activity, given the history of violence in the Old Town/Chinatown section of downtown.

The attack occurred In January 2009 when a gunman opened fire outside The Zone, which has since closed. He killed two teenage girls and wounded seven other people before killing himself.

The Zone had a history of fights among people in line, and three people were shot outside the club in 2002 while it operated under a different name, the appellate opinion states.

Moreover, problems with gang violence and public intoxication in Old Town/Chinatown were serious enough that police and nighttime establishments held a summit in 2006.

“We cannot say that, as a matter of law, the circumstances alleged in the complaint were so highly unusual, or the sequence of events so attenuated, that no reasonable person in the Zone defendants’ position could have anticipated the harm to Delgado,” Presiding Judge Erin Lagesen wrote in the majority opinion.

The decision returns the case to Multnomah County.

Delgado, 17, had been staying with a host family in White Salmon, Washington, as part of an exchange program run by Rotary International, which is also named as a defendant. She was one of 14 exchange students dropped off near the club that admitted people between the ages of 16 and 21.

She was shot twice while waiting to enter.

Senior Judge Walter Edmonds, in a dissenting opinion, noted that the 2002 shooting was not a recent event and gunshot-related homicides were rare in that area. He said the shooting could have just as easily been at a mall, church or sporting event.

“Giving plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences, it was a mere happenstance that the shooter chose the line of young people outside the Zone defendant’s club as his target,” Edmonds wrote

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Follow Steven DuBois at twitter.com/pdxdub

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