Patrick J. Cooney obtains a defense verdict in an overcrowding case

Patrick J. Cooney, of the firm's Albertson office, obtained a defense verdict in a recent trial in Supreme Court, New York County, in a case involving  alleged overcrowding and failed crowd control measures  in a movie theatre.  While walking down the stairs, the Plaintiff alleged that a stampede of patrons ran up behind and pushed her, causing her to fall down a flight of stairs.  The Plaintiff alleged that the theatre and the sponsor of a free movie screening were negligent in permitting the theatre to become overcrowded and in failing to provide adequate security and crowd control.

Plaintiff's expert opined that the theatre and sponsor were negligent for failing to have a written plan/guidelines for events such as the one which was hosted on the date of loss. In response to Plaintiff’s claims of overcrowding, the defense used experts to establish that notwithstanding the lack of a written plan, the theatre was not overcrowded and that there was adequate crowd control.  The defendant’s employee testified that he observed the Plaintiff running in high heeled boots and that she fell, i.e. was not pushed. The defense also impeached the credibility of the Plaintiff, among other ways, by revealing that she had five prior lawsuits.

The jury ultimately returned a defense verdict, with all jurors holding that the theatre was not overcrowded and five out of six jurors holing that there was adequate crowd control.  (June, 2016).