Four years ago in late April, St. Louis Cardinals fans enjoyed a baseball game under beautiful, spring skies. As the post-game party continued at bars around the stadium, a storm headed straight for downtown St. Louis. Fifty mile per hour winds ripped through the area, leaving one bar’s party tent collapsed with one person killed and seven others seriously injured.
In March of this year, the premises liability case was tried to a jury resulting in a verdict for the plaintiffs and against the bar. At the heart of the case were two questions – did the bar owners and staff know or should they have known about the approaching storm; and did they do enough to alert patrons in the party tent of the storm.
In Missouri, as in all states, a property owner has the legal responsibility to makes its premises safe for its guests. If they do not and as a result someone is harmed, they are responsible to make up for the harm. There are many dangerous conditions that can cause a slip, trip or fall that results in injury, including:
- Wet floors
- Icy sidewalks or parking lots
- Faulty stairs with missing handrails or poor lighting
- Damaged or exposed electrical wiring
- Dog bites or attacks
- Inadequate security resulting in an assault
Premises liability exists if the dangerous condition is foreseeable. That is, if the property owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition and failed to remedy the condition, warn of its presence, or otherwise protect someone who is lawfully on the premises.
In the tent collapse case, the attorneys were able to prove to the jury that the owners and staff had sufficient information to know that the impending storm created a dangerous condition to the patrons under the party tent. The jury found the bar owners liable because despite their knowledge of the dangerous condition created by the storm, they failed to warn or protect their guests from the danger.
Matt Casey is a partner with Casey & Devoti, a St. Louis-based personal injury law firm. Matt handles a wide variety of personal injury cases, including: automobile, truck and train accidents, product and premises liability, medical and legal malpractice, elder and sexual abuse, Workers’ Compensation, and wrongful death. Matt and his law partner, Matt Devoti, are also authorized speakers with EndDD.org’s ‘End Distracted Driving Student Awareness Initiative”.
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