Premises Liability Case Dismissed Based on Lack of Foreseeability of Harm

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Nebraska issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a man who was hit by a car while standing in the parking lot of the bar he had visited. In the case, Pittman v. Rivera, the plaintiff filed a premises liability case against the bar that had kicked out the patron who eventually got into his car and struck the plaintiff. However, since the court held that the bar could not have reasonably foreseen that such an injury could have resulted from its conduct in kicking out the other patron, the case was dismissed.

Diner at NightThe Facts of the Case

Pittman was inside the defendant bar with some friends. Earlier in the night, Rivera was kicked out of the same bar for getting into an argument with his girlfriend, an employee of the bar. Initially, Rivera left with a designated driver. However, a few hours later, he returned in his own vehicle. Rivera attempted to get back into the bar, but the bouncer refused him access. Angry and likely still intoxicated, Rivera left the bar and made several U-turns in an aggressive manner, revving his engine loudly outside the bar. At some point, Rivera lost control of his vehicle and struck Pittman, who was now outside the bar talking with some friends.

Pittman filed a lawsuit against several parties, including, most notably for this opinion, the bar owner. The bar owner argued that he had no duty of care to protect Pittman because he was standing outside the bar, and even if there was a duty to protect him, that duty was not violated by disallowing Rivera to enter the bar.

The Court’s Opinion

The court considered the evidence presented and ultimately determined that the bar did owe Pittman a duty of care to protect him as he stood outside the establishment. The court explained that the general rule is that a business has a duty to its customers to ensure that they remain safe throughout their visit. However, the court also held that the duty owed to Pittman was not violated.

The court explained that, under common law, in order for the defendant to have breached the duty, the harm caused must have been foreseeable. Here, the accident was not a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s actions in kicking Rivera out of the bar. The court pointed to the evidence that Rivera, although aggressive and assaultive toward his girlfriend, did not know Pittman. Furthermore, his behavior in the bar toward his girlfriend would not indicate to the bar owner that he was likely to go on and strike someone else with his car. Thus, since the harm was determined not to be foreseeable, the court held that the defendant bar owner did not breach the duty of care owed to Pittman, and the case was dismissed.

Have You Been Injured While a Customer at a Bar or Restaurant?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on the property of a bar or restaurant, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland premises liability lawsuit. These cases, as you can see from the discussion above, are very fact-intensive and often turn on the most minute details. The skilled attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have the experience necessary to pick up on even the smallest details that may become relevant later. To schedule a free consultation, call 410-654-3600 today.

More Blog Posts:

DUI Accidents on Maryland Roads, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published May 17, 2016.

Auto Manufacturers Seek Help from Insurance Companies to Increase Compliance with Safety Recalls, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published April 18, 2016.

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