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Inadequate security may mean premises liability for nightclubs

Blocks away from the scene of the recent horrific nightclub shooting, a security guard stands his post outside another local establishment. Despite the heightened fear among night life crowds, nothing has changed at this bar. He is still the only line of defense between patrons and a violent attack. When people in Pennsylvania and across the country go out for a night of fun, they may not worry about premises liability at nightclubs.

Every state sets its own standards for bouncers. Some states have intense, regulated prerequisites while others simply follow a handbook. However, in many cases, training for club security may be the same training for the guard at the local jewelry store. Other countries that have dealt with terrorist threats longer have federal standards in place which demand security systems of certified guards for their pubs.

In one of few states with mandatory bouncer certification, the former police officer who wrote that training program believes that better preparation for the bouncers at the Orlando club may have saved lives. The club apparently had no metal detectors, and the guards were not checking people for weapons. The officer laments the fact that while patrons ran to hide, the attacker was able to reload his gun several times without confrontation.

Bouncers and doormen may be part-time employees who are trying to pay for college or earn a little extra money. Working security may not be their primary profession, and they may feel that the wage they earn is not worth risking their lives. However, club owners in Pennsylvania and elsewhere whose establishments are at high risk for violence may be re-evaluating their safety measures. Failing to improve inadequate security may leave many clubs facing premises liability claims in the event of another attack.

Source:, "Club Bouncers on the Front Lines: Necessary Security Measures", Kerri Mason, June 23, 2016

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