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Halloween Party Host Liable for $44.8M After Crashers Attack Guests

Alexandra A. Hamilton, Attorney with The Veen Firm Elinor Leary, Trial Team Leader with The Veen Firm.

An Alameda Superior Court in California found a Halloween party host liable for a total of $44,837,294 after two guests were shot and injured when the host corralled armed uninvited crashers into an enclosed parking lot with unarmed guests.

The defendant (name withheld) hosted a Halloween party in October 2012 at the defendant's warehouse in an industrial part of the Bay Area. Before the party, the defendant promoted the Halloween party on Facebook and hired E.J. to play music at the event.  Defendant promised E.J. that only close friends would be invited so security was not necessary.

On the night of the party, defendant assigned an employee to act as bouncer. With no security experience, the employee did not prevent anyone from entering -- even including uninvited party crashers.  Even after tensions grew and scuffles broke out inside, defendant did nothing to remove the intruders.  

After the fighting escalated, defendant opened the warehouse’s metal roll-up doors, pushed everyone outside into a parking lot, and locked the doors.  E.J., his wife N.J., and his friend R.B. were trapped outside with the assailants, who continued to attack the guests.  While trapped outside the warehouse, R.B. and E.J. were shot by the armed assailants.

The plaintiffs' attorneys are Elinor Leary and Alexandra Hamilton with The Veen Firm in San Francisco. After a three-day trial the court awarded:

  • $5,005,716 to R.B.
  • $38,119,728 to E.J.
  • $1,711,850 to N.J.

Dangerous environment

The plaintiffs’ security expert testified that defendant created a dangerous environment by hosting an indefinite number of people at a remote warehouse without taking reasonable precautions, requesting for police presence, hiring certified security guards, or preventing invited guests from coming into contact with party crashers. As a result of the negligent security and the increased danger by corralling guests in the parking lot with the violent assailants, R.B. and E.J. suffered significant injuries.

  • R.B. was shot in the left thigh, injuring his saphenous nerve and causing significant leg pain and weakness.  He developed an altered gait, which caused right leg, lower back pain, bone spurs and a disc bulge.

Plaintiffs presented evidence that R.B. would require medical, psychological and home care for the rest of his life. Medical care included a surgery to sever the saphenous nerve.

Before the shooting, R.B. worked as a medical technician. Evidence showed R.B. will not be able to return to work in his chosen profession, resulting in significant lost earning capacity.  

  • E.J. was struck by multiple bullets in the buttocks and hip. E.J. underwent emergency surgery to reconstruct and repair his penis from the bullets’ trajectory. A gunshot wound to his left hip fractured the femoral head and neck, such that bone and cartilage splintered into small pieces. E.J. underwent another surgery to reassemble the bone.  Because of his hip injuries,32-year-old E.J. developed post-traumatic arthritis in his hip and an altered gait, which led to back and knee pain and mobility issues. 

Plaintiffs presented evidence that E.J. would require medical, psychological and home care for the rest of his life, including hip replacement surgery every decade.

  • N.J. sought damages for the loss of her husband’s love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support, emotional support, counsel, encouragement, inspiration, and guidance.

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