SPHINX HOTEL ON TRIAL FOR DUTY OF CARE OVER DANCEFLOOR

In In the Courts by Clyde Mooney

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A Geelong pub is facing legal action by a patron for failure of duty of care, for injuries she sustained on the premises three years ago.

In October 2013, a woman on the dance floor of Cazbar, the nightclub in the Sphinx Hotel, was picked up and subsequently dropped by another patron. It is unknown whether the man was known to her.

The 34-year-old injured her left arm, which required surgery, leaving her with scars.

She is now pursuing the owners of the Sphinx, the Ramia family, suing their company Dun-Ra Investments P/L for failing to ensure she was not exposed to risk of injury, and suffering injury, loss and damages due to negligence.

The woman has engaged high-profile lawyers Slater & Gordon for the case against the venue. Public liability lawyer Maria McGarvie told Geelong Advertiser there are rules that must be followed.

“There are plenty of liquor licensing and security licensing arrangements that these organisations have to observe for the protection and benefit of everyone who is attending.”

It is nearly impossible for public venues to protect patrons from random acts, and such an event would typically fall to a case against the other individual. But Jason Thomas from AusComply* says the likely lack of evidence to show the venue’s efforts in this instance could hurt them in Court.

“In the absence of CCTV, or strong documentable evidence to show their history and a culture of compliance when it comes to RSA and unruly behaviour, they will likely have a case to answer,” answered Thomas.

The plaintiff is seeking damages, interest and costs, and will likely see either a five-figure settlement or even greater windfall if the case is won in Court. Cases involving public liability, frequently toilet slip-and-falls, are a common threat to licensed venues around the country, and breeding a pre-emptive protection approach.

“We are already seeing Sydney venues achieving success at court and avoiding punitive regulatory action,” relays Thomas.

“We recommend all licensed venues protect themselves with robust systems and processes, particularly when it comes to the recording of reactive incidents and pro-active management interventions.”

 

 

*AusComply produce an electronic incident register to replace paper-based systems, allowing for digital accuracy and reporting.

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