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Don't Make this a Different Kind of 'Black' Friday!

Starting today, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend begins. Bostonians will close their computers at work, head home and enjoy a weekend of knowing that Massachusetts law prohibits employees from working on Thanksgiving .

Then comes Black Friday. The shops open at midnight, people line up outside and the mayhem begins.

While mall owners are prepping themselves for the crowds, they should also be arming themselves for the liability involved, as we discussed in our Boston Real Estate Law Blog.

But seeing as the concepts are so intrinsically tied to personal injury (premises liability is one of those cross-over issues), it merited a discussion on this blog.

It’s very important for retailers to prevent any injuries from happening on Black Friday. With all the chaos, it’s very easy for items to fall or for shoppers to slip.

In the Boston Real Estate Law Blog, we discussed what liability is involved when someone is essentially “invited” onto the premises.

At that point, the property owner has to take ordinary care to ensure that the property is safe.

First off, that duty likely expands to retailers holding leases on the property, if their merchandise is piled high and their promises of “rock-bottom prices” invite the shoppers in.

Secondly, knowing that Black Friday could pose hazard to sleep-deprived shoppers, perhaps a standard above “ordinary care” should be required. Or perhaps “ordinary care” on that day means something other than what it would mean on an “ordinary” day.

Retailers risk major lawsuits if anyone gets injured on Black Friday at their stores, so stores need to take effective measures to control the crowds and avoid breaching maximum capacity.

They should also make sure that the lanes remain clear and that there is enough space for shoppers to move around without risking injury.

Black Friday can be fun, but don’t let it turn into a different type of “Black” Friday.

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