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Three years ago, an Ottobar concertgoer attended a show to see the local band Stout perform. During that show, Yuri Sanchez suffered a broken neck after another man jumped off stage and struck his knee against Sanchez’s head. As a result, Sanchez underwent cervical spinal fusion surgery and is now forced to use a walker in order to get around. Consequently, Sanchez has not been able to return to work. His attorney is seeking $14 million in damages from the Ottobar’s liquor license holder and the owner of the building that houses the venue. Sanchez’s complaint alleges “the Ottobar had no signs or warning notices that ‘stage diving’ and ‘crowd surfing’ could be dangerous and that there was no buffer between the crowd and the stage where stage diving and crowd surfing were taking place.” In addition, the lawsuit alleges “the owners ‘encouraged and advertised such behavior…in an effort to attract young irresponsible adults to come pay a cover charge to engage in such behavior.’” Sanchez and his attorney claim “[t]he Defendants encouraged, were aware of, and supported the acts of ‘stage diving’ and ‘crowd surfing,’ which is an inherently ultrahazardous and dangerous activity that Defendants knew, or should have known, was likely to result in serious injury or death.”
All patrons of the Ottobar (assuming they legally entered the building) are “business invitees,” which means the Ottobar owners owe all concertgoers at their venue a duty to use reasonable and ordinary care. If the allegations about Defendants encouraging “stage diving” and “crowd surfing” are true, the Defendants breached their duty to use reasonable care.
This is not the first time the Ottobar has been sued for a “stage diving” incident. In fact, in 2011, the Ottobar settled a case out of court involving a patron getting injured by a “stage diver.” The Ottobar is not the only music venue facing litigation. Venues all over the United States, including the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, are facing similar actions due to crowd surfing injuries.
In order to recover in a personal injury case, whether its wrongful death or bodily injury, you must first prove “liability.” In other words, you must prove the defendant was at fault or to blame for the accident.
The general term that is used in all injury cases is “negligence.” A negligent act occurs when a party fails to take “reasonable care.” Therefore, the lawyer’s job is to prove the defendant acted unreasonably given the circumstances.
The burden of proof is on the plaintiff. In other words, if you were hurt you must show “more likely than not,” fifty one percent to forty nine percent, that the defendant acted unreasonably. In Maryland, that is where an experienced personal injury lawyer is a necessity. The top injury attorneys have seen many different fact patterns, defenses, and are aware of the danger of “contributory negligence.” The attorney’s experience is necessary to overcome the liability hurtle and get damages.
If you or a family member has been injured or killed as a result of a Maryland personal injury and would like a free legal consultation or if you would like more information,please feel free to contact our office at (410) 995-1515 or visit us on the web at www.portnerandshure.com