If you are a sports fan, you know that things can get out of hand in the stands during football, baseball and even hockey games, i.e., fights may ensue among spectators. Some cities, like Philadelphia, have a bad reputation and are known for having rowdy and unruly fans.
The rivalry on the field or rink often spills off the field and into the stands. Just last month at a New York Jets and New England Patriots football game, a Jets fan punched a Patriots fan after New York’s win. *Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com (Jets Fan Punched Woman In Face During Fight With Patriots Fans At MetLife Stadium)
In such situations, if a sport spectator is injured in a fight, can the stadium be held responsible for the spectator’s injuries? The answer depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the fight.
Because sports venues or stadiums are public establishments, they have a duty to protect the patrons from unreasonably dangerous conditions. This includes harmful or criminal conduct of others which is reasonably foreseeable. See PA Businesses Owe A Duty To Protect Their Customers From Harmful Acts Of Third Parties
Consider the following situation at a Philadelphia Eagles football game. A loyal Eagles fan sees a rival spectator wearing a NY Giant jersey at a game. The Eagles fan boos and heckles the rival spectator. The rival spectator does not respond and continues to watch the game. By half time, the Eagles fan has had multiple beers. He becomes intoxicated, continues to taunt the other spectator and even physically approaches the rival spectator to yell in his face. He is so loud and disruptive that security asks him to settle down multiple times, but does not escort him out of the stands.
The Eagles fan continues to buy alcohol, and employees of the stadium continue to sell alcohol to him even though he is visibly intoxicated.
By the third quarter, the Eagles fan is heavily intoxicated and becomes belligerent. He approaches the rival Giant’s spectator again and starts a fight. The other spectator’s nose is broken during the fight and will need corrective surgery. In this situation, the stadium is likely responsible for the injured spectator’s broken nose and injuries.
Because the stadium security saw the fan’s unruly behavior toward the rival spectator and asked him to settle down multiple times prior to the fight, it is foreseeable that the intoxicated fan may start a fight. Security should have escorted the intoxicated fan out of the game to prevent a fight from ensuing.
Another reason the stadium may be responsible is because the stadium employees continued to sell alcohol to a visibly intoxicated fan. The employees should not have continued to supply alcohol to the fan, which contributed to the fight.
Every spectator injury case is different, and not every spectator injury case is viable. Therefore, it is important to speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer to properly evaluate your case.
Related PA/NJ Sports Injury Article: Can A Spectator Sue For Injuries Sustained While Watching A Sporting Event?
If you or a loved one was injured by another party at a sporting event, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Feel free to call the sports injury lawyers at White and Williams for a free consultation @ 877.944.8396.