Public facilities have a responsibility to take reasonable measures that help ensure the safety of anyone who legally visits the premises. This means they must remain watchful for hazards that can cause someone to suffer injuries, and take such measures as repairing loose carpeting, lighting steps and pursuing other actions to prevent falls. But they also need to make sure their facilities provide adequate security protection, whether that means providing well-lit entrances and parking lots, or otherwise addressing possible security issues, in order to protect customers.
In June 2012, the New York Times reported the case of Tony Parker, a San Antonio Spurs point guard who filed a $20 million lawsuit against a New York night club, after suffering an eye injury during a brawl originated by two well-known musicians at a nearby table at the club. The lawsuit alleges that the club was negligent in allowing the two musicians into the club at the same time, despite known tension between the two.
The New York State Liquor Authority filed 14 charges against the club, and another club situated above it, in response to a number of oversights, including allowing the premises to become disorderly, by suffering or permitting an altercation and/or assault to occur. Police shut down both clubs. But the club claimed they did not know about the animosity between the two musicians, thereby making the Parker lawsuit and others unwarranted.
The outcome of this case remains unknown. But it clearly illustrates that the responsibilities of property owners extend beyond protecting visitors from slip and fall accidents. Property owners face potentially serious consequences by failing to address security issues for their premises, as well.