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November 18th, 2013

Philadelphia Bar & Nightclub Liability for Fights & Shootings

Philadelphia Bar Goer Dies after Club Fight Ends in Shooting

South Street in Philadelphia has long been known for its food, fun and night life. However, it is now becoming known for shootings and fights.

Over the weekend, a young Philadelphia man was killed after a bar fight ended in a shooting. According to myfoxphilly.com, a fight at the Mixed Plate club/bar on South Street in Philadelphia spilled out into the streets shortly after 1 a.m.

Police were called to the bar shortly before the shooting occurred. However, in the chaos, a 21 year old bar patron was shot in the head and chest and later died at a local Philadelphia hospital.

At least 10 shots were fired; one of those shots went through a 5th story apartment window. Luckily, no one in that apartment was injured. The shooter was captured shortly after the bar shooting and faces murder charges. Source: myfoxphilly.com, “21-Year-Old Dies After South Street Shooting”

Can Bars and Clubs in Philadelphia be Held Liable for Bar Fights and Shootings?

Public establishments such as bars, restaurants and nightclubs may be held liable for bar fights and shootings. The key in these so called “dram shop” cases is proving that the establishment either knew or should have known that a fight or shooting would occur.

For example, a bar may be liable for failing to protect patrons from a particular patron who previously exhibited aggressive behavior and later fights or shoots another patron. In such a situation, so long as there is evidence that the bar or club knew of the patron’s previously aggressive behavior, a Pennsylvania court would probably find the bar/club liable.

Another common situation involves bar/club liability for creating situations which led to a fight or shooting. Overcrowding, failing to provide proper security and/or negligence in serving alcohol may all contribute to a fight or shooting.

In some cases, security employees or bouncers, may escalate a situation. For instance, a bouncer may get into a physical altercation with a patron who then assaults another patron. See D’Allessandro v. Cavanaugh’s River Deck (where security employees got into a near physical altercation with a group of patrons and later ejected them, the court held that the bar could be found liable where one of the men ejected assaulted an individual outside the bar). Click here for a discussion of that case.

In bar and nightclub fight or shooting cases, it is crucial to conduct the investigation early on. Eyewitnesses are usually very important in laying the foundation for a solid case against the bar or club.

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