The Scenario: A Hotel bar fight…

A man is at a bar inside a hotel with his friend and his sister.  His friend encounters bar patron in the bar and they get into a fight.  The bar patron stabs the friend, and the man jumps in to help, but is also stabbed.  There was a security guard on site who did nothing during the 2-minute altercation.

The question becomes if the hotel is liable through the lack of action of his security guard to stop the fight and therefore prevent the stabbing of the man and his friend.

The Law:  Hotel has to use ordinary care…

A motel operator is under a continuing legal duty to its patrons to use ordinary care to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition and protect them from harm due to reasonably foreseeable risks of injury.

Nevertheless, while a hotel operator has the duty to use reasonable care for the protection of patrons, the hotel is not the insurer of the safety of its patrons. Nor is the hotel liable for the conduct of a third party on the premises which causes injury, unless the injurious conduct is reasonably foreseeable to the hotel; that is, unless the hotel has knowledge of the danger involved and has had an opportunity to protect against it, the hotel may not be held liable.

The Question:  Is the bar fight foreseeable?

The question of foreseeability in a negligence action is generally a question for the trier of fact.

Is a 2-minute fight foreseeable?

The hotel claimed that the fight was “unprovoked and unanticipated” and was accomplished “within two minutes” and that it was not a sufficient basis for such a finding to be foreseeable.

The Supreme Court Ruled:

While knowledge of a particular person’s propensity for violence has been considered competent evidence of foreseeability, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that “proof of foreseeability should be limited by law to evidence of actual or constructive knowledge of a particular assailant’s propensity for violence.” The supreme court added, “[a] tavern owner’s actual or constructive knowledge, based upon past experience, that there is a likelihood of disorderly conduct by third persons in general which may endanger the safety of his patrons is also sufficient to establish foreseeability.”

In this case, the Court found that the hotel was NOT relieved of liability by this intervening act as a matter of law unless the patron’s criminal attack was unforeseeable.

The evidence:

911 records were pulled where the hotel had called 911 in many occasions, and that police reports confirmed the danger and foreseeability of another violent act even if the prior acts were not as violent as the current act.

If you have a similar problem, whether the hotel or the patron or the man, please give us a call for a free consultation. We can help you find the right law, and help you win your case.  Call (786) 454-2411 today.

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