In California, bar owners may be liable to pay damages if their security personnel assault their patrons in some situations. Even in cases in which the patrons were partly to blame, the patrons may still be able to recover damages that are reduced by the percentage of fault that they had for what happened. In Shawn Dearing v. Cabo Cantina, et al., the potential for liability of bar owners was demonstrated.
Factual background of the case
Shawn Dearing was a 28-year-old man who was waiting outside of the Cabo Cantina for his friends to leave at 2 a.m. Dearing was leaning up against a rail that separated the bar’s property from the sidewalk. A security guard who was employed by the Cabo Cantina told Dearing to stop leaning on the rail, and an argument ensued. The security guard then walked off of the bar’s property and onto the sidewalk with Dearing following him. The security guard’s supervisor came outside but did not de-escalate the situation. Dearing slapped away the security guard’s hand, prompting the security guard to hit him in the temporal region of his skull. The force of the blow caused skull fractures, and he sustained an additional fracture in the occipital region that was caused by his head striking the sidewalk. He filed a lawsuit against Cabo Cantina, its management company, and the security guard company, which supplied the security guards for the bar.