CLUB LIABILITY FOR CRIMINAL ACTS?

There are a lot of private clubs (and organizations that function essentially like clubs): golf clubs, tennis clubs, fraternal organizations, VFW halls, etc.  Many serve alcohol.  And sometimes things get out of hand.

The law is pretty well settled that when clubs over-serve members and members drink and drive the club is going to be liable to anyone injured by the intoxicated driver.  But what about when the crime isn’t drinking and driving?  What about when the crime is assault or even murder?

There was a shooting at a club in Seattle recently.  It wasn’t the first incident there:

Seattle Police are investigating a shooting Sunday morning at a private motorcycle club in Georgetown that left one man dead.

The shooting occurred in the 900 block of South Doris Street around 4 a.m. Police say the officers who responded found two adult male victims, both injured by gunfire.

In situations like this it’s possible to make claims against clubs if they knew has specific knowledge that there was a potential for violence and didn’t take reasonable precautions.  Does that mean clubs should stop serving alcohol or curtail activities?  No.  What it means is that they should purchase insurance and take reasonable precautions to make sure everyone has a good time and no one gets hurt.

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