Business owners and property holders may be held responsible for injuries caused by their negligence. In an August 17, 2020 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a Maryland personal injury case arising out of an assault committed against the plaintiff in the parking lot of a bar owned by the defendant. Following a trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff brought the instant appeal, arguing that the circuit court erred by not allowing him to present evidence of prior similar assaults on the defendant’s property.
The plaintiff in the case was with a friend at the bar and restaurant operated by the defendant. When his friend got into a heated argument with an intoxicated individual, the plaintiff attempted to separate them. The security officers then intervened and escorted the individual outside of the restaurant. Security also asked the plaintiff and his friend to leave. While the plaintiff was walking towards his car, the individual ran across the parking lot and punched him in the head, knocking him unconscious. The plaintiff was left in a coma with a fractured skull and multiple head injuries. The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant, alleging negligence and premises liability claims.
In a negligence case in Maryland, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury, the defendant breached that duty, the plaintiff suffered an injury, which proximately resulted from the defendant’s breach of duty. In general, a person has no duty to prevent a third party from causing physical harm by criminal acts, absent a special relationship.