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Insufficient Bar Security Blamed For Fatal Altercation

Victoria Negron

Written by
— Updated on February 13, 2018

Dram Shop Expert WitnessThis case involves an individual that was severely beaten to death by a drunk patron of a notoriously rowdy bar. The aggressor had been thrown out of this bar on numerous occasions but was allowed to come back even though he was known by the staff as an aggressive man that would cause fights. On the night in question, the aggressor showed up to the bar already intoxicated. When the aggressor tried to order a drink, the bartender refused to give the aggressor any liquor. The aggressor became too rowdy and security eventually threw him out. Usually, the bar would have several security officers stationed outside, but the officers were not there that night. After he was thrown out, the aggressor walked down the street and beat the plaintiff with no instigation. The individual passed away from injuries sustained in the beating.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please describe your experience in bar security and dram shop liability.
  • 2. In general, should a bar have allowed in and served this type of patron?
  • 3. What responsibility, if any, does a bar have after throwing out a patron who could be dangerous to the general public?

Expert Witness Response E-059249

The licensee is responsible for anything that occurs on the premises and is obligated by law not to allow legal violations on their premises. An assault or battery is a law violation. In my opinion, the licensee has a general obligation to assess the nature and number of patrons and to staff accordingly to prevent such harm. In particular, if the licensee (through his or her employees) had knowledge concerning an individual’s propensity for violence, they had a duty to specifically and effectively monitor him to ensure patron safety or to prevent his admittance.  It is clear that the licensee has a duty to call the police when their staff is not capable of controlling the behaviors of any patron who is a risk to himself, staff members, or patrons. The national training programs for bars and restaurants stress that the security staff should call the police and take steps to protect other patrons until the police arrive. There is nothing in the law that authorizes the security staff to assault or batter an unruly patron themselves and the national training programs advise bar staff not to touch the unruly patron. I am not aware of anything in the law that specifically establishes a duty once they have put an intoxicated patron out of the premises. This may be an assumed duty if the bar participates in an arrangement for an entertainment district where this is addressed.

 

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