Business Proprietor’s Responsibility to Customer for Other Person’s Violence.

If a proprietor has notice of a specific wrongdoer’s actions against a patron or tenant there may be foreseeability of danger to customers in certain circumstances. Thus, an innkeeper could be responsible for the sexual abuse of a child guest, where there was evidence of the specific perpetrator’s (another guest) prior acts to others and there was notice to employees. But a landlord’s employees’ mere observance of the perpetrator without cause to be alerted to him as a threat does not raise a duty. Another court’s decision held that a fast food manager’s husband’s attack upon a customer was not foreseeable and there was no duty to intervene as there was no evidence shown that the proprietor had any knowledge of husband’s proclivity prior to attack. Evidence showed only that he had made verbal threats to his wife previously, and this not show a likelihood that he would attack a third party.

In a divided decision, a court has held that there could be constructive knowledge to support liability where a drunk patron stumbled into the plaintiff and hurt her as there was sufficient evidence that the proprietor should have known that the patron was besotted even if there was no evidence showing actual awareness.


The information provided in this summary is general and for information only and does not constitute legal advice for any particular situation of facts and circumstances. If you have need of legal advice, please consult an attorney for your specific questions.