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Bathroom line fight at 49ers game brings negligent security claim

Is it foreseeable that men waiting in a long line for the bathroom at a football game might get surly and frustrated? Sure. Is it foreseeable that a fight might break out, and someone could be injured?

Absolutely, according to a recent ruling by a federal judge, and whether a reasonable person could have foreseen such events is important when it comes to lawsuits like this one.

Back in October 2014, a pair of cousins was attending a San Francisco 49ers game at Levi's Stadium. Tragically, they were assaulted while waiting in a long line for the bathroom. One of the men suffered a traumatic brain injury, which is an injury that often requires a lifetime of care.

The family sued, alleging the security for the bathroom lines was inadequate. Whether that was the case or not still remains to be shown, but the issue of who could be held financially responsible for the man's traumatic brain injury has already hit the courts.

The family named several defendants in their lawsuit: The 49ers, Levi's Stadium and its management, the Santa Clara Stadium Authority the City of Santa Clara, and Elite Show Services, Inc., which provided security that night. Two other defendants were First Mercury Insurance Co., which insured Elite, and Great Divide Insurance Co., which insured the 49ers.

In advance of the family's lawsuit going to court, First Mercury sued Great Divide, seeking a declaratory judgment. The basic question was whether Great Divide had to pay up if the injured man's family won.

The ruling? The family's lawsuit alleged negligent security led to an unreasonable risk of harm, which is a legitimate claim. That was enough to trigger a duty to defend the action -- by both First Mercury and Great Divide. There is no way to know in advance of the family's trial whether Elite Show Services were fully responsible, or if the 49ers will be found liable. That being the case, the insurance companies will split the cost of defending the lawsuit and wait until a final decision is made before trying to split up who will pay.

Any personal injury lawsuit can be complex, but having multiple insurance companies on the other side can make everything more difficult. If you have been injured due to inadequate security or another unsafe condition on another party's property, it's a good idea to have an experienced attorney on your side.

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