In Dim Light

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Q: I was attending a performance and sat in the aisle seat.  During an intermission, I left my seat.  I returned before the next act.  A couple also left their seats during the intermission.  They returned after the houselights had dimmed and the second act had begun.

As they reached our row, I rose from my seat and moved down into the stepped aisle to allow them to pass.  The man then lost his balance and fell onto me, causing me to fall down four steps.

A: A theater owner cannot be an insurer of the safety of its customers.  Its duty is only to exercise reasonable care for their protection.  In addition, it seems like the owner’s relationship both to you and the man did not put it in the best position to protect from the risk of harm.

 Most likely, the owner has some performance staff rules and guidelines.  Presumably, an internal policy says that ticket holders should be escorted to their seats with the aid of flashlights when the house lights are low, and requested to watch their step.

The courts are reluctant to use such internal guidelines if they go beyond the standard of ordinary care.  Violation of a company’s internal rules is not considered negligence in and of itself.  Where such rules require a standard that transcends reasonable care, the courts tend to say that the breach cannot be considered evidence of negligence.

Was this couple escorted?  Was a flashlight used?  Was the man requested to watch his step?  If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions, then the jury will have to conclude that the duty of reasonable care was violated, not merely the company’s rules, in order for you to win.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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