Tony Parker Sues nightclub for injury: Crash Course in Negligence

Tony Parker is suing WiP nightclub for $20 million for his injury resulting from the Drake/Chris Brown brawl (Copy of Complaint Thanks to TMZ) a couple weeks ago. Parker’s complaint alleges the club was negligent in allowing Drake and Brown into the club and seating them at tables in close proximity although it was public knowledge that there was bad blood between the two.  Parker also alleges among other claims, that the club was negligent because it continued to serve alcohol to the participants in the brawl despite them being “visibly intoxicated” and the club did not provide enough security to contain the brawl in a timely manner.

This is significant not only because it may affect Parker’s status on the French national team for the Olympics but also because he recently signed a $50 million contract extension with the San Antonio Spurs. To prove that the club is liable for Parker’s injury, Parker’s attorney will have to show the club was negligent “beyond a preponderance of the evidence”. This standard is less demanding (easier to prove) than “beyond a reasonable doubt” which is applied in criminal cases and frequently heard in the news and on TV shows.

There are certain elements that need to be proved for WiP to be liable for Parker’s injuries.
The first two elements that need to be established is that WiP owed Parker a duty of care and that WiP breached that duty. This means the extent to which the nightclub should have taken measures to prevent its patrons from being injured and whether they did so or not.

In a similar case in New York involving a patron who was assaulted by two unknown assailants at a nightclub, the court held, “While the owner of a public establishment has the duty to control the conduct of persons on its premises when it has the opportunity to do so and is reasonably aware of the need for such control, it has no duty to protect customers against an unforeseen and unexpected assault.” Petras v. Saci, Inc., 18 A.D.3d 848, 796 N.Y.S.2d 673, 674 (N.Y. App. Div. 2005).

Applied to this case, Parker would have to show that the fight was foreseeable (the extent to which the club is able to predict it will happen), which may be possible considering the facts. The fact that Drake and Brown are celebrities and that the bad blood between the two has been publicized may contribute to proving that WiP knew or should have known that there was the possibility of a fight between the two parties.

Parker can also argue that because WiP knew or should have known of the possibility of a fight, they should have added extra security to prevent such an occurrence.  On the other hand WiP may argue that they provided adequate security based on prior events at the club and that they have not had any problems in containing similar disturbances in the past.

The third element that needs to be established to prove that WiP was negligent is causation. Causation comes in two different forms, first is direct cause. Direct cause is also referred to as “but for” causation. So in this case it takes the form of, “Parker would not have suffered his injury, but for WiP letting Brown and Drake in the club, continuing to serve their parties alcohol while they were visibly intoxicated and not providing adequate security”. If the answer to this is true, then we have established direct cause. That was pretty simple.

The more complicated causation is legal cause, also referred to as proximate cause, which must also be established. Proximate cause refers to whether the injury was reasonably foreseeable from the negligent action. So in this case, was it reasonably foreseeable by WiP that their actions would have caused Parker’s injury? Based on the facts it can be argued either way but being that WiP likely knew of the bad blood between the two, it can be proved that it was foreseeable that a fight might break out. WiP will likely argue that it’s not foreseeable for the club goers to start heaving bottles but I don’t see that as a strong argument. It’s reasonably foreseeable that a fight would break out in a bar or club.

The last element of negligence Parker would have to prove is damages. This is not terribly difficult because Parker was hit in the eye by a shard of glass. In addition, Parker possesses a unique skill (being an elite basketball player) which is quantifiable by his contract with the San Antonio Spurs.

It’s also still possible for Drake and Brown to be pulled into this lawsuit either by Parker or by WiP and it’s owners. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

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About Rajiv Radia

Rajiv is a third year law student at American University - Washington College of Law in Washington DC and a long time sports fanatic.
This entry was posted in NBA and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Tony Parker Sues nightclub for injury: Crash Course in Negligence

  1. Kim K. says:

    Tony Parker should sue Drake and Brown. They are the only one responsible for their behavior – the nightclub cannot be expected to know who gets along and who doesn’t. Sounds to me like Tony might be friends with Drake and Brown????

  2. jdsportsfan says:

    Thanks for the comment! It’s still possible for Drake and/or Brown to be pulled into this law suit. It looks like the night club is going to argue that the fight was not foreseeable because Drake and Brown are not known to be violent towards each other: http://www.tmz.com/2012/06/23/tony-parker-chris-brown-drake-fight-lawsuit/

  3. al bacon says:

    I wonder if this might be compared to a “Dram Shop Law” where if an establishment serves a customer beyond a certain point, they become liable for any injuries caused by that? If the fight had not happened and either Drake or Brown had driven off and had an accident causing an injury to themselves or others, the nightclub which served them may well have been sued for that reason but in this case, a fight ensued which caused the injury to Parker. It isn’t always a case of knowing who gets along with who but how much have they consumed. Are they able to talk without slurring their words? Do they appear intoxicated? How much did they drink in what period of time? There are a great many bar tenders who can tell stories of having to cut someone off because they had too much to drink and a great many more who were fired because they did not cut someone off and a great many cases where an establishment was sued and paid a great deal of money because they did not cut someone off when they were obviously too impaired to continue drinking

  4. Pingback: Tony Parker injury

  5. herman abram says:

    whenever you put yourself in a club atmosphere around drinking and other negative things
    you should be aware of what can or may happen

  6. al bacon says:

    An added note:
    GENERAL RULE: Pursuant to New York State’s Dram Shop Act, a restaurant, bar or other commercial establishment may be held liable for the acts of their intoxicated patrons who drink and later cause injury to another.

    In order to sustain a cause of action under the Dram Shop Act, a Plaintiff must show: (1) that he was injured by an intoxicated person; (2) the defendant sold to or otherwise procured liquor for the intoxicated person; and (3) the defendant thereby caused or contributed to such intoxication.

  7. Pingback: Drake and Chris Brown Sue Each Other for W.i.P Nightclub Brawl | JD Sports Fan

  8. Pingback: An Update on Old Friends: Chris Brown, Drake and Tony Parker | JD Sports Fan

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