If you have been injured by an unruly crowd you may be entitled to damages and a recovery.
On Friday of this Thanksgiving weekend there was a most unfortunate incident in Valley Stream, New York, where a Walmart employee was trampled to death by surging shoppers who broke down the doors to get “Black Friday” bargains. See New York Daily News story. It appears that this store did not have security to maintain crowd control and to keep order. The crowds walked over the employee who was gasping for life.
A store has a duty to maintain reasonable crowd control. A store, such as Walmart, cannot let a crowd become a mob. This is so where it has used special sales and publicity to gather a larger crowd than usual. A store must provide reasonable security so that a crowd of eager shoppers does not become a stampeding mob.
The duty to maintain proper crowd control does not extend just to retail stores. This duty is imposed on theaters, concert halls, athletic events, and other places of public gatherings where there is a potential for an unruly crowd.
We have had a number of cases involving unruly crowds. For example, we are handling a case were the client was injured while attending a Mets game at Shea Stadium. There was a group of drunk men who were standing in the aisle. The client’s husband complained a number of times to the ushers and security. The men were not only drunk, but they were blocking the view of other people. Finally, one of the drunks fell on the client and fractured her shoulder. The drunks fled the scene. The client has had surgery, and her fracture has not healed. We claim that the Mets failed to provide reasonable security and crowd control especially where its ushers and security men were told of the problem. They failed to do anything.
Typically, in a negligent security the defendant will claim that it is not responsible for the injury in that it was inflicted by either customers, guests, or intruders. The store will claim also that it had no “notice” of the negligent or criminal acts of a third-party. We have to show that defendant knew or should have known of the potential for injury. Success in these cases is dependent upon the unique set of facts of the case.
If you have been injured by an unruly crowd, please call me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark E. Seitelman, 11/30/08, www.seitelman.com.
See our follow-up to this post, Part II. M.E.S., 12/1/08.