The aftermath of the melee between singer Chris Brown and rapper Drake at a posh New York nightclub continues. Tony Parker, the starting point guard for the San Antonio Spurs, has filed a lawsuit against W.i.P. nightclub claiming $20,000,000 in damages for a corneal laceration he suffered to his left eye after being hit by shards of glass during the fight between Brown’s and Drake’s entourages.
Under New York law, a premises operator has no duty to protect its patrons from unforeseeable and unexpected assaults and no duty to take any protective measures. However, they do have a duty to take reasonable precautions to prevent harm to their patrons and to control third persons if they are “reasonably aware” of the need for such control. This duty is triggered when the tortfeasor has a history of violent behavior or there was a history of violence between the individuals involved in the occurrence at issue; there was a history of violent or criminal conduct on or around the premises; or there was an escalation of events or a verbal altercation preceding the occurrence.
In his lawsuit, Parker claims that W.i.P. had notice of the “bad blood” between Brown and Drake based on the fact that both had dated singer Rihanna. Parker thus contends that W.i.P. should never have let them both into the club at the same time with their entourages or should have taken reasonable steps to protect its patrons. Interestingly, defense counsel for W.i.P. has now filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that Parker’s legal team has failed to allege facts sufficient to state a cause of action. The motion vehemently opposes the premises liability claim, arguing that it would expand a nightclub’s duty to monitor their celebrity patron’s social relationships and to control their patron’s conduct solely based on media reports of “bad blood” and that to do so would “subject premises operators to the unpredictable and limitless liability so strongly disfavored under New York courts.”
Given the damages being claimed and the high-profile nature of this case, it appears both sides have the resources to engage in a long, drawn out legal battle that may end up expanding, or further defining, New York’s premises liability law.
Thanks to Michael Nunley for his contribution to this post.