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Premises liability is based on negligence principles

The widow and son of a man beaten to death in the parking lot of an NFL football team is suing the football team for not providing appropriate security for the man while he was leaving the game and trying to find his car in the parking lot. The decedent mistakenly got into the wrong SUV and was attacked by a crowd of people, including the owner of the vehicle. This type of an action for monetary damages is called a premises liability claim in New Hampshire and all other states.

One man pleaded guilty to the homicide killing of the victim. The family is suing him for civil assault and battery along with the NFL franchise for premises liability.  Thus far, the football organization has denied the charges by citing to a number of security measures it says that it puts in place for customers.

In order to prevail, the plaintiffs will have to show that the Kansas City Chiefs fell below the required duty of care and protection owed to ticket purchasers. Generally, when the plaintiff is an invited business guest on the premises, the owner owes the highest standard of care that is mandated. This means essentially that the owner must not only maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition for the protection of visitors, but it must also undertake to inspect the premises for any dangers that would harm the customer.

What reasonable measures might the organization have provided under these circumstances? It is unclear whether lighting was an issue, but there may have been a lighting problem judging from the fact that the decedent climbed into the wrong vehicle. There is likely an issue over whether the team provided enough security personnel to protect patrons from attacks of this kind. Under New Hampshire law of premises liability and the law of other jurisdictions, the determination of liability is based on whether the owner knew or reasonably should have known of the danger and, if so, whether it took sufficient steps to protect the plaintiff and others using the facilities.

Source: kshb.com, "Family of man beaten to death sues Kansas City Chiefs", July 12, 2016

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