Bar Liable in Bar Fight OUTSIDE Bar

There's a Legal Duty To At least Call Police, Appeals Court Rules
WASHINGTON - April 25, 2021 - PRLog -- An appellate court has ruled, apparently for the first time, that a bar can be held liable in an incident involving a bar fight, even though the fight occurred outside the bar, and no employee of the bar was directly involved, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the bar can be sued for failing to call the police when a racially-motivated fight occurred outside its front door in which a white patron beat an African American patron after calling him the n-word.

Ordinarily, a bar or similar establishment would not be held legally liable for assaults and similar wrongdoings which occur outside its premises on a public sidewalk, notes Banzhaf, who teaches the law which govern such situations.

But here, although the trial court followed the conventional law and ruled that there was no legal liability, the Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed.

It wrote that "a reasonable jury could conclude that because defendant's bar patrons congregated out front on the sidewalk on bike nights . . . the area around the front entrance was effectively defendant's premises."

It said that a "risk of imminent harm" became clear when the aggressor reentered the bar after the initial assault on the Black patron; "thus … this incident triggered a duty by the defendant to reasonably expedite the involvement of the police."

Indeed, it remarked that "the need to expedite the involvement of the police was further enhanced by the racial overtones known by all and shared by several patrons."

This appellate court ruling creates a legal precedent to substantially increase the potential legal liability of bars, night clubs, and even restaurants for what happens outside, says Banzhaf, noting that individual fights and even brawls involving many people frequently occur immediately outside certain bars.

Indeed, he reminds us that one party to a dispute in a bar will often invite the other to "step outside and settle this thing," and that bouncers and other bar employees will often order disorderly patrons to "take the dispute outside."

Especially with the growing incidence of criminal violence against minorities - including not just Blacks but also Asian Americans - it may be useful to remind businesses that they can't simply stand by and do nothing, and may have a legal duty to at least call the police.

The ruling can also be useful for a person seriously injured in a fight outside a bar who either cannot identify his assailant(s) or finds that they have insufficient financial resources to adequately compensate the victim for the injuries caused, says Banzhaf.   @profbanzhaf

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