On Saturday, November 25, 2023, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department responded to a shooting at Club Lavish on 7950 Bluff Road in Gadsden, South Carolina. When authorities arrived, one woman was on the ground, unconscious, and suffering from a gunshot wound. Two other women suffered gunshot wounds. All the victims were transported to the hospital and survived their wounds.
Two siblings, LaRoyal Harley and Roy Harley, were subsequently arrested in connection with the shooting. Roy Harley was charged with two counts of attempted murder, and LaRoyal Harley was charged with accessory after the fact.
What is Considered Negligent Security at a Nightclub?
A negligent security case is a case brought against a property owner, in this case a nightclub owner, for failing to implement reasonable security measures to protect guests and patrons. Negligent security at a nightclub could include a wide variety of criminal attacks, including shootings, stabbings, sexual assaults, or some other type of violent crime. These types of cases could stem from insufficient or no security, no having weapons checks, not properly training nightclub staff, or a lack of security cameras.
The key in these types of cases is to show that the nightclub owner knew or should have known about the potential for visitors to get injured as a result of violent crime and nevertheless failed to implement reasonable security measures, which then led to a patron getting injured. A key component of these cases is foreseeability. In other words, we ask whether then property owner or business owner knew or should have known about the potential for violent crime.
A claimant can establish foreseeability by pointing to prior incidents of violent crime on the property or other crime data that shows crime in the area. Things like 911 call logs or local crime data can go a long way toward establishing foreseeability. When violent crime is more foreseeable, there is a bigger onus on the property owner to implement security measures. Accordingly, what “reasonable security measures” a property owner should have put in place will depend, at least in part, on the foreseeability of violent crime at the nightclub.
What Will the Nightclub Argue?
The defense’s arguments will always depend on the facts of the case, and every case is different. However, there are several arguments that we tend to see in these cases.
First, they may argue that they had sufficient security measures in place or that they didn’t need to take any further actions to make the property safer. However, upon a proper investigation, we may learn that the security cameras weren’t functioning or that there weren’t enough security personnel on the property at the time of the incident.Another argument the defense might try to make is that the incident that’s the basis of the case was a one-off incident and that it wasn’t foreseeable. However, if there have been recent criminal acts in the area around the property or on the property itself, it’s an uphill battle for the defense to argue that the violent crime wasn’t foreseeable.