Neighbors in a west Erie neighborhood are calling for the closing of a “nuisance bar” called 901 Sports Bar & Grill after a shooting in the early-morning hours of Sunday, July 29. According to Erie Police, a shoving match began inside of the bar. One of the men involved left the bar and came back with a gun, opening fire into a large group of people. Two women were struck by bullets – one in the foot and one in the shin. Both are expected to recover.
This shooting is just the latest in a trend of violence at the bar. Police have been called to the bar over shots fired several other times over the years, including a fatal shooting in 2017. Neighbors have also complained about broken glass, excessive noise, and other nuisances related to the bar. The bar’s owners attended a neighborhood watch meeting in June, where neighbors voiced their concerns about the controversial bar. This week, neighbors filed a civil motion to have the bar shut down.
This story raises an interesting legal question – can bars be held responsible when one of their customers becomes violent and injures someone? While it may be true that bar ownership can’t control the actions of their patrons, they can at least reduce the risk of violence and injury. This can be done by making sure that the bar has adequate security measures in place, and by cutting off service to visibly intoxicated customers.
In Pennsylvania and most other states, bars can be sued if they continue to serve alcohol to visibly drunk customers. Additionally, premises liability laws require all business owners to keep their premises reasonably safe. In cases where a location has a history of violent incidents or other injury hazards, there is a greater likelihood that they could be found liable for damages if an injury victim decides to file a personal injury lawsuit against them.
Cases involving injuries or violent crime at private businesses are complex. If you’ve recently suffered an injury at a bar, restaurant, or another business, you can gain a better understanding of your legal rights by speaking with an experienced gun crimes injury lawyer in your area.