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July 15th, 2013

Pennsylvania Bar/Restaurant Negligence Update – Liability for Fights Outside of the Premises

Bar/Restaurant Liability for Fights in Pennsylvania

Under Pennsylvania law, bars, restaurants and clubs can be held liable for fights which occur on the premises. Common theories of liability in such instances usually include negligence in serving alcohol, failure to have appropriate security, failure to hire/train security, etc.

However, generally speaking, bars and restaurants are not liable for fights which occur outside the premises, say in a parking lot or on the sidewalk, at least, not without committing some act of negligence which increases the risk of harm.

Bar/Restaurant Liability for Fights Outside

A recent Pennsylvania federal court opinion reiterates the principle that a bar, restaurant or club can be held liable for a fight which occurs outside the premises. The key, again, is some act of negligence on the part of bar/restaurant employees.

Suggested Reading: Bar/Restaurant Fights – Is a Bar Liable for Fights Outside of the Property?

In D’Allessandro v. Cavanaugh’s River Deck, a case in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Philadelphia, the court found in favor of the injured bar goer, a young woman out for a bachelorette party.

The plaintiff was at the defendant’s bar for a bachelorette party with her cousin and friends. At 1:30 a.m., she and her friends were waiting outside for transportation. While she was waiting, another group of bar patrons were kicked out of the bar by security personnel. One member of that group allegedly assaulted the plaintiff who suffered severe injuries and needed extensive dental work.

The bar tried unsuccessfully to argue that because the fight occurred outside, on the sidewalk, it was not liable under any circumstances. The court disagreed, finding that the act of ejecting the patrons may have created the risk of harm.

There was evidence that the ejected patrons got into a heated argument with the security personnel which lasted 10 to 15 minutes prior to the assault of the plaintiff, and one security employee had to be restrained from physical violence. There was also evidence that the bar’s policy was to avoid such behavior out of the concern for bystander injury. Ultimately, these factors were crucial to the plaintiff’s argument that the bar was liable and essentially created the risk of harm.

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Pennsylvania Bar/Restaurant Liability Lawyers

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