Security guards and bouncers play an important role in keeping bars, shopping centers, hospitals, music venues, and other businesses safe for patrons. They are charged with using an appropriate level of force to keep unruly guests or drunk patrons from hurting themselves or others.
But all too often, security guards and bouncers use their position of power irresponsibly. While we trust security personnel to keep us safe, they are by no means above the law. Whenever force is used in a casino, bar, or other location, it must be reasonable and appropriate for the situation.
The idea of “negligence” is crucial to a personal injury claim. An individual has been negligent when he or she had a duty to act in a certain way, did not live up to that duty, and someone was injured as a result. Like any U.S. worker, security guards and bouncers are required to go about their job in a non-negligent manner.
When dealing with a particularly intoxicated or violent patron, bouncers and security guards are allowed to defend themselves and physically remove the customer. However, it is never appropriate to “rough up” a patron on their way out, detain a patron indefinitely in a holding area, or use excessive roughness to eject the person.
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Intent is irrelevant when it comes to negligence. For example, say a drunk patron started to cause a scene in a bar, flipping over chairs and shouting loudly. The bouncer is called over to remove the patron. The bouncer grabs the patron by the shoulders, pushes him toward the door, and shoves him out the front door of the bar, where the patron is sent tumbling down a set of concrete stairs outside.
The bouncer could be found liable for the patron’s injuries because security personnel are required to remove patrons in a non-negligent manner. Whether or not he intended to push the customer down the stairs, it happened (and it was the security guard’s roughness that caused it to happen).
Bars, shopping centers, casinos, and other businesses can also be found liable for security guards’ actions. “Vicarious liability” applies when the security guard or bouncer causes harm to a guest while acting within the scope of their employment. However, if the actions were particularly unreasonable, an employer can avoid vicarious liability by arguing that the employee was acting outside the standards set by employment.
Proving liability of a security guard or bouncer can be difficult, depending on the circumstances of the incident, but in cases of unnecessary roughness or violence, it is crucially important. Left unchecked, negligent security personnel will continue to act violently toward patrons and cause unnecessary harm. A personal injury lawsuit is often the best way to recover your losses from the incident, as well as hold the security guard(s) accountable for their actions.
Here are just a few examples of negligent conduct by security guards here in New Jersey and New York:
- March 2014: A 55-year-old man is attacked by security at Harrah’s casino in Atlantic City
- February 2014: Two security guards charged with assault after attacking a patron in the parking lot of a diner in Hampton Bays, New York
- February 2014: 75-year old man assaulted by hospital security after rushing his wife to the hospital during a stroke in Bayonne, New Jersey
- May 2014: A civil lawsuit was filed on May 16, 2014 on behalf of Anthony Flora. The officer seen in this surveillance video viciously punched, kicked, kneed, stomped and pummeled Mr. Flora with excessive and unnecessary force. The assault in September 2012 left him with a concussion, bruised ribs, severe cuts and four fractured teeth.