Security expert witness advises on dram shop assault protocols

A bar security management expert witness discusses a fight in Delaware that resulted in a stabbing. The plaintiff was standing in the bar area of a restaurant with friends. Another man, the attacker, had a problem with members of the victim’s group because of their sports affiliation. The attacker was consuming alcohol and acting improperly. Other patrons noticed the behavior and told the bartenders that the attacker was looking to start a fight. They never spoke to the attacker or reported his behavior to a manager. An extra manager was working that night, and the managers’ duties included providing security. When the bartender went out the back door to have a cigarette, the attacker stabbed the plaintiff in the neck with a knife.

The plaintiff alleges numerous claims against the bar for its alleged lack of security.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Did the bar violate the standard of care for reasonable bar security?
  • 2. What should the bar managers have done?

Expert Witness Response

The bar had a history of assaults. Bars, taverns and nightclubs must have policies and procedures to deal with assaultive behavior when there is a history of it. As identified in “Strategic Security Management”: In the security field, three general types of countermeasures are taken to prevent, mitigate, and eliminate risk: policies and procedures, physical security measures, and security personnel.

There is no evidence that the managers were present in the bar area when this incident occurred. There is no evidence that the managers knew about this incident until after a bartender yelled. There was a policy that managers assumed the role of security and were to be monitoring the lounge area. Additionally, the bar should have had an employee policy and procedure addressing assaults of patrons for its bartenders. They should have a procedure that implemented various nonviolent calming strategies to handle behavior surrounding assaults. The bar should have had a policy and procedure for assaultive behavior between patrons. The bartenders should have implemented the procedure of calming strategies or notifying a manager, so the attacker could have been effectively addressed and the situation diffused. Failure to apply these strategies resulted in the plaintiff being injured.

The expert is a certified protection professional.


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