Florida Court Considers Case Arising Out of Nightclub Shooting

On July 1, 2016, there was a shooting at a nightclub in Palmetto, Florida. Three patrons of the nightclub were shot, and others were trampled in the ensuing chaos. Now, several of those injured in the incident have sued the nightclub for damages. Even though the nightclub owners were not the ones who did the shooting, the plaintiffs in this case allege that the owners were negligent in several important ways. A skilled South Florida personal injury attorney can help you to determine whether you may be able to recover damages for any injuries that you have suffered due to the fault of another.

Duty Owed By Nightclub Owner

When a business opens its doors to the public, whether a nightclub, grocery store, or offices, they owe a duty to the patrons of the establishment. Generally, the owners and managers owe a duty to keep things reasonably safe for patrons. However, what is considered reasonable in any given circumstance is dependent upon a number of different factors.

In this scenario, the plaintiffs are alleging that the owner was negligent because he did not provide adequate safety and training protocols for security and not warning patrons that the security did not have the proper training. The plaintiffs also allege that the nightclub owner was negligent because he did not provide proper lighting, and he did not having enough security present.

In order to prove negligence, the plaintiffs must demonstrate that the nightclub owner owed them a duty, that he breached his duty, and that the breach of the duty caused injuries. Proving that a business owner owed a duty to patrons is simple. However, the complicated part for the plaintiffs will be proving exactly what that duty entailed.


Though this case stems out of events related to a nightclub shooting, the instant case revolves around insurance. Businesses typically have insurance that will cover them when someone is injured on their property. However, these insurance policies usually have exceptions. Here, this case addresses whether the nightclub can rely on their insurance policy in this instance, thus requiring the insurer to defend against the charges and indemnify the nightclub for damages.

The insurers are relying on two exceptions to the policy in order to argue that they do not have a duty to defend and indemnify the nightclub for this incident. The first policy exclusion that they are relying on is the assault and battery exclusion. This exclusion means that the policy does not cover damages resulting from an assault or battery. However, nowhere in the policy is “assault and battery” defined. The court held that since is not clear whether the shots were an assault or battery, because it requires intent, the insurer does have a duty to defend on this matter.

The other exclusion that the insurers attempt to rely on is the firearm exclusion. The court does determine that the events are excluded from the policy under this provision as there is no question that the injuries were directly related to the shooting of a firearm. Thus, the insurer has no responsibility in this case.

Contact an Experienced South Florida Personal Injury Attorney Today!

The knowledgeable South Florida personal injury attorneys at Donaldson & Weston have experience helping injured plaintiffs get what they are owed. If you are injured you should contact them by using the contact form on this website or call 772-266-555 or 561-299-3999.

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