Chevron USA Inc. and a gas distributor don’t belong in a lawsuit filed by a white St. Francisville man who was beaten unconscious by a black convicted felon who told the man he was in the “wrong neighborhood” when he stopped to get gas in north Baton Rouge, a state appellate court ruled.

A three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal reversed state District Judge Janice Clark and dismissed Chevron and Lard Oil Co. from the suit by David Ray III and his family.

The store’s owner, Melvin George, and Donald Ray Dickerson, the habitual offender convicted in the Mother’s Day 2013 attack on Ray and sentenced to life in prison without benefit of parole, remain as defendants in the suit.

Chevron and Lard had argued in court that the criminal acts that took place that night at Stadium Chevron, on Scenic Highway at the foot of Plank Road, were not reasonably foreseeable to either company.

“It is well settled that there is no duty to control, or warn against, the criminal actions of a third person so as to prevent him from causing physical injury to another, unless some special relationship exists to give rise to such a duty,” 1st Circuit Chief Judge Vanessa Whipple and fellow Circuit Judges John Michael Guidry and John Pettigrew wrote Monday.

“Although a business establishment is not the insurer of the safety of its patrons, a business proprietor owes his patrons the duty to provide a reasonably safe place,” the judges added.

Neither Chevron nor Lard owed a duty to protect Ray, his wife and their two young daughters from the criminal acts of third parties, the panel found.

Chad Sullivan, an attorney for the two companies, declined comment Tuesday.

Michael Palmintier, who represents the Ray family, could not be reached for comment.

Ray’s injuries included a broken eye socket and nose.

George has said there is nothing he would have done differently in terms of security at Stadium Chevron.

Dickerson, 44, had been released from federal prison less than three months before the incident and was still under federal supervision at the time.

His assault on Ray was probed for a time as a possible hate crime, but Ray said he and his family did not want to be a “symbol of hatred.”

Trial testimony indicated words were traded between Dickerson and Ray about the pink shirt Ray was wearing as he waited in line outside the store that night to pay for his gas. His wife and eldest daughter also were punched when they tried to assist him.

Two officers were later counseled by their superiors for an error in judgment for not booking two others, Devin Bessye and Ashley Simmons, into Parish Prison. Instead, they were issued summonses for simple battery for allegedly hitting Ray’s wife and daughter.

Dickerson is appealing his second-degree battery conviction and life sentence.

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