In the early hours of July 1, 2017, dozens of people were injured in a Little Rock, Arkansas, nightclub shooting. The shooting occurred in the middle of a concert at Power Ultra Lounge. In total, 28 people suffered injuries, with 25 of those people suffering injuries from gunshot wounds. One witness advised the shooting occurred during the middle of the performance, with more than 50 shots being fired. The Little Rock Police Department began investigating immediately following the shooting, and local police will receive assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well.
Government officials in Arkansas say this shooting is indicative of higher crime levels in Little Rock than in recent years. Between January and July 2017, for example, there have been 29 homicides in Little Rock. However, there were only 15 homicides during the same period of time in 2016. Violent crime in the area is also up more than 20% so far this year.
When a shooting, robbery, or other criminal act takes place at a private place of business, most immediately think of the criminal investigation that will take place and leave it at that. They think of yellow crime scene tape and officers flooding the scene to secure the premises and begin taking witness statements. The police will investigate and the perpetrator will then be charged and prosecuted in criminal court. However, in Arkansas, the analysis does not end there for victims of criminal attacks that were injured during the course and commission of a crime, including innocent bystanders.
Under the law, the victim of a third party criminal attack may be entitled to assert civil claims for damages against the individual perpetrator. If the victim was killed in an attack, surviving loved ones can bring a wrongful death lawsuit, subject to Arkansas’ wrongful death statute, codified at Ark. Code Ann. 16-62-102 . However, many times that individual will lack the monetary funds or assets needed to reimburse the victim for medical bills like emergency room treatment, physical therapy, surgery, and the like, which can be costly for those who suffer catastrophic injuries. Non-economic damages, including pain and suffering and mental anguish, may also be considerably high for someone involved in a traumatizing event, such as being shot or robbed at gunpoint, for instance.
In addition to the individual perpetrator, it may be possible to hold the property owner or manager liable for what happened. For instance, the plaintiff may be able to allege negligent or inadequate security. In Arkansas, property owners are obligated to take reasonable steps to make their premises safe for customers and patrons. This could include the responsibility to provide proper security measures, depending on the circumstances.
Whether a property owner will be liable for providing inadequate security will depend on the specific facts surrounding the criminal act in question. For example, is the business located in a high-crime area? Had there been similar criminal attacks at that location in a relatively short period of time preceding this attack? Did management receive notice of threats but fail to act? These are only a few of the questions that must be asked in the context of a criminal act occurring at a place of business.
Examples of inadequate security measures include failing to hire security guards when appropriate, poor lighting, broken security gates, defective security locks, or taking other action that essentially invites criminal activity to the property and places innocent patrons in harm’s way. To prove liability against the landowner, it may be necessary to conduct extensive research and discovery, making it extremely beneficial to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney in Arkansas who can investigate the incident, monitor the individual defendant’s criminal court proceedings, and retain security and/or forensic experts when needed.
If you have been injured as a result of an Arkansas property owner’s negligence, call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz today at 800-529-4004 for a free consultation. We represent people injured throughout Arkansas, including in and around Little Rock, Jonesboro, Pine Bluff, Searcy, Conway, Fort Smith, and Fayetteville. Our premises liability attorneys are ready to take your call, and we are available 24/7.