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Shot in Head at Strip Club; Liability in the Champagne Room?

If there’s something that people know, it’s that there’s no sex in the champagne room. Thank you Chris Rock. What we should instead promote is no guns in the strip club.

In the middle of the night, two men were shot in the head in what seems like a conflict over seats in the Glass Slipper strip club in downtown Boston. The shooter, Steven Gayle, claims that the men sat down next to him in a booth where he was sitting, after which an argument started. The argument turned ugly and Gayle shot one man twice and then the other man once, according to the Boston Globe. Both men survived and are expected to recover.

Gayle would likely be guilty of battery (in addition to the criminal charges), but is the Glass Slipper liable for the men’s injuries?

A place of business has a general duty to keep its premises safe for its patrons. This includes inspecting the property for hazards and warning customers of known dangers. Liability has even extended into parking lots of known high crime areas.

However, a place of business or property owner only must go as far as is reasonable to protect their visitors. For example, to assure people know if something spills on the floor in a supermarket, having employees put up a sign saying “wet floor” is a reasonable way to protect customers. On the other hand, hiring a floor monitor to assure that nothing is on the floor at all times goes beyond reasonable.

Here, the question is whether it would have been reasonable to have a metal detector or similar protections to assure that no one has a gun in the Glass Slipper strip club. If there was no history of violence at the club, it would be difficult to argue that any heightened amount of security would be reasonable. But, with the recent bout of shootings, it might have been reasonable. It would be for a jury to decide.

This event might actually be a catalyst for the Glass Slipper to beef up its security, because if someone were to get shot there again, it would increase the potential for premises liability, even in the champagne room.

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