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Liability for Mass Shootings


After attacks in Sandy Hook and Aurora, lawsuits were filed against the property owners and business owners where these crimes took place. It remains to be seen whether a similar lawsuit will be filed in Manchester for the deaths and injuries that resulted from that horrific terrorist attack.

Obviously, the perpetrators of these killings bear responsibility. But what about the landowners, business owners, or event organizers? Do they bear any responsibility? What if the organizer of the Ariana Grande concert had received a credible threat a few days before the event? What if security cameras would have prevented the Sandy Hook massacre?

These can be difficult questions to answer. As a result, legal action against a business or property owner for shootings, attacks, or other crimes that occur on their property can be difficult to prove. That said, if the following elements are met, you may have a claim:

1. The Business Owner had a duty to create a reasonably safe atmosphere or a duty to exercise reasonable care with relation to his patrons’ or invitees’ safety. In Wyoming, Business Owners do have that duty.

2. The Business Owner breached that duty by failing to take reasonable action to prevent harm. To be successful in a mass shooting case, it would be important to know whether the Business Owner knew or should have known of a threat. In other words, the Business Owner could have foreseen the criminal act that occurred. Also, it would be important to know whether the Business Owner could have taken some simple or reasonable steps to prevent the foreseeable conduct.

3. Because the landowner failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the foreseeable act, someone was hurt or killed.

Each of these elements can be expanded upon and there are nuances to each. But these are the basic elements of a premises liability claim relating to a mass shooting or other crime. If you or a loved one have been involved in an incident like this, you should call a personal injury attorney to determine whether you have a potential claim.

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