On April 10, 2023, a 25-year-old bank employee opened fire in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, and live streamed the attack that left four dead and nine others injured, according to authorities. Out of the nine people injured, three were hospitalized in critical condition. According to the Louisville Metro Police Chief, Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel, the gunman was identified as Connor Sturgeon, an employee at Old National Bank.
Unfortunately, these types of deranged mass shootings continue to occur across America – from night clubs, to concerts venues, blue collar businesses, hotels, and retail establishments, the impact on the victims, their families, and our community is self-evident. According to multiple sources, approximately 145 mass shootings have taken place just this year alone. That is more mass shootings than days in 2023. Incidents like the mass shootings in Nashville, Tennessee, Buffalo, New York, Uvalde, Texas, Las Vegas, Nevada, and the latest in Louisville, Kentucky, continue to send cities into mourning and repeat call for gun reform. But, aside from the continued call for gun reform, what can be done to prevent and/or minimize mass shooting tragedies at businesses and hospitality events from taking place?
Historically, business owners are not liable to a person injured by the criminal acts of a third party unless the criminal act is foreseeable. In following this rule, only in situations where the place or character of an owner’s business or its past experience is such that it should reasonably anticipate criminal conduct of third persons, and be under a duty to take precaution against it and provide reasonable measures to provide protection. However, with mass shooting incidents becoming more frequent and widely reported in modern times, the perception of whether such events are foreseeable and such reasonable measures should be implemented, has begun to shift.
Public perception, institutional awareness, and public policy are converging to place greater duties and responsibilities on businesses and institutions to have affirmative actions in place to prevent and/or deter mass shooting. Arguably, establishments and businesses who host large amounts of people have a duty to use reasonable care in properly screening, training and supervising their employees, implementing adequate security equipment, hiring and training adequate security personnel, monitoring people entering and leaving their establishments, and overall having an adequate security plan to prevent and/or deter these types of tragic events from happening.
At Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, we are sympathetic to the victims, families and communities affected by mass shooting incidents, and are committed to helping make a change. For more information, call us at 713-222-7211 or 1-800-870-9584.