According to school and law enforcement officials, several civilians and two police officers were injured when hundreds of disgruntled spectators rushed the gate at Howard University’s annual homecoming concert “Yardfest.”
The annual event has been a free event, open to the public, for at least 20 years. This year, however, the organizers decided to make the concert a ticketed event, charging $5 for each person. A spokesperson for the university also stated that officials had determined that only 14,000 people could safely attend the event, even though authorities had not enforced limits on crowd size in the past.
The result of the changes was essentially chaos, when the disgruntled crowd members, believed to consist mostly of un-ticketed individuals, decided to rush the gate, injuring eight civilians and two officers. All of the victims were taken to local hospitals, though the injuries were all reportedly minor. The concert was reportedly delayed as a result of the behavior.
What happened in this case is an example of potential landowner liability for unsafe premises. Although the most commonly known form of this liability occurs when a shopkeeper fails to promptly clean or post a warning near a spill, leading to a slip and fall, inadequate security at major events can also fall within this category.
In determining the potential liability of the university, the law asks whether another university, which has previously allowed as many people as wanted to attend an event come for free, which suddenly switches to a system requiring payment and imposing attendance limitations, would have made the same decisions as those made in this situation. For example, even though the crowd was directly to blame for causing the injuries, we would want to know whether the event was properly staffed with an adequate number of public safety officers, considering the turnout of prior events, among other considerations.
Additionally, when the defendant in this type of claim is a governmental entity (as with a public university), as previously discussed on this blog, there may be certain notice and other procedural requirements that must be met in order for your case to be allowed to proceed. For example, West Virginia Code requires plaintiffs to provide both the president of the university and the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office with notice of the claim and the relief sought in writing by certified mail at least 30 days before filing suit. A failure to do so could result in a successful motion to dismiss.
If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury, your first step is to contact an experienced personal injury law firm in the Washington D.C. area to discuss your potential legal claim. Our dedicated personal injury attorneys have represented individuals and their families who have suffered from personal injury or wrongful deaths caused by car accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability and other traumatic events. If you believe that you were injured or your loved one died as a result of the wrongful or negligent actions of another, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen by calling 1-800-654-1949 or by visiting our website, in order to schedule your initial free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in Snorkeling Accident of University of Virginia Student, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, published October 30, 2013
Serious Brain Injury Lawsuit Follows Private Jet Crash, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, published October 21, 2013