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:
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.
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.
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.