Premises LiabilityPremises liability refers to the liability of landowners or landlords or occupiers of land for injuries that occur on their property. Examples include someone falling through a rotten deck, someone getting electrocuted from faulty wiring/electrical system, someone slipping on a liquid spill at a store that the store failed to clean up, someone falling into a hole that was difficult to see, a child being injured in a fall from a window that was not properly guarded, or someone falling from an elevated platform that did not have proper guardrails. A property owner can also be liable for inadequate security or lighting, such as an assault occurring in a parking lot that did not have adequate lighting at night. The legal rules that apply in premises liability cases can vary depending on the injured person’s status on the property. The owner of the premises is liable for injuries caused when they knew of an unsafe condition, or failed to exercise ordinary care to discover the unsafe condition, and that they should have realized that this unsafe condition involves an unreasonable risk to harm others. The duty of care may include removing the hazardous condition, safeguarding the hazardous condition, or at least warning of the hazardous condition. A grocery store, hardware store or other business establishment has a duty to keep its premises reasonably free of physically dangerous conditions, like produce on the floor, falling merchandise, tripping conditions, or even electrical explosions from a faulty machine etc. Our tort system, which involves bringing civil lawsuits for people injured by the fault of others, has two primary goals. The first is to change the conduct of people, corporations and government to make our world safer. By holding parties at fault for the injury and damages they cause, we make people act safer. By holding people at fault accountable for their action, we seek to change their actions in the future. By having a system under which people know they will be held liable if they negligently harm another, we all act safer for the betterment of society. The injured person may also be partially at fault and responsible and the law takes this into account. The second goal is to compensate the injured person for the harm they have suffered. Society becomes safer and better for what we do for our clients. The risk of injuring others and being held liable for that harm assures that we keep our land and premises free of dangers for the safety of all.
On July 20, 2012, 12 innocent people were killed and 70 injured in a Colorado movie theater during a showing of The Dark Knight Arises. The gunman was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
On July 24, 2015, 2 innocent people were killed and 9 injured in a Louisiana movie theater during a showing of Trainwreck. The gunman was shot and killed.
On August 5, 2015, 3 innocent people were injured in a Nashville movie theater during a showing of Mad Max. The gunman was also armed with a hatchet. Police happened to be nearby, arrived swiftly, and the gunman was shot and killed.
After the first shooting in Colorado, a representative from the National Association of Theatre Owners told the press that: movie theater owners will be reviewing their procedures and adding security across the country.
On Thursday January 21, 2016, according to reports in the media, Dane Gallione arrived at the Landing Theater in Renton. He appeared to be intoxicated and/or under the influence. If this is true, question number one is: why was he allowed into the movie theater.
Question number two: What efforts did the movie theater make to protect its customers from a person under the influence who had a loaded gun.
Sometime just before 8:11 p.m. while watching the movie 13 Hours, Gallione discharged his weapon through the back of the seat of Michelle Mallari who was sitting next to her partner of 16 years Richard Arreola.
The bullet shattered Michelle’s clavicle and then traveled down through her chest and breast where it became lodged. If that bullet had struck her a few inches over, she could have become paralyzed, brain injured, or dead.
The media has described the following versions of what Gallione said happened:
1. He accidentally dropped the gun and it went off
2. The gun had accidentally fallen out of his pocket and gone off
3. Someone was grabbing for his crotch and he accidentally fired the gun then fled as he didn’t want to be mistaken for a mass shooter
4. Someone was bothering him, the gun accidentally went off and scared him prompting him to leave
Michelle and Richard did not observe Gallione and do not know what he said or did at the time he shot Michelle.
It is undisputed that after Michelle was shot, Gallione walked right out of the theater and threw his 9 mm magazine in a trash can. He then went into a restaurant where he dropped his gun and it picked it up then left. He then went home and threw his gun down on the ground.
This means that he fled the scene.
At no time did he stop to see if Michelle was okay. He did not voluntarily return to the scene. He did not voluntarily call the police.
Instead at 9:41 pm – an hour and a half later – his father found out what happened and turned him in.
Gallione is currently charged with Assault in the 3rd degree a class C felony. (With criminal negligence, causes bodily harm to another person by means of a weapon or other instrument or thing likely to produce bodily harm).
He is not currently charged with making false statements to the police which is a gross misdemeanor. (RCW 9A.76.175: A person who knowingly makes a false or misleading material statement to a public servant is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. “Material statement” means a written or oral statement reasonably likely to be relied upon by a public servant in the discharge of his or her official powers or duties.)
He is not currently charged with obstructing the police which is a gross misdemeanor. (RCW 9A.76.020. (1) A person is guilty of obstructing a law enforcement officer if the person willfully hinders, delays, or obstructs any law enforcement officer in the discharge of his or her official powers or duties.)
After Michelle was brought out to the lobby and it was determined that she had been shot, ushers from the theater did not appear to have any protocol in place to address this emergency situation. They did call 911. But then gave the phone to Richard. They did not check the other theater rooms. They did not immediately evacuate the premises. They helped Michelle over to a bench. And then stood by while bystanders immediately provided aid.
As of the date of this interview, only the police have reached out to Michelle and Richard. No one from The Landing has tried to communicate with Michelle. One of the employees at the scene did give Richard free vouchers so they could return to watch another movie.
$1,500,000 settlement in landlord-tenant case where client shot multiple times by another tenant.
(August 2011) a confidential wrongful death settlement of a 45-year-old man leaving a wife and two children, one of whom was a minor. Plaintiff was struck by a yard truck at night at a distribution yard that had poor lighting and no designated path for pedestrians to cross from the parking area to the office. The truck driver died several days later from his injuries.
(September 2004) $1,575,000 settlement for client who suffered a brain injury in a fall from a window.
(October 2010) $1,000,000 settlement for the drowning death of a 3-year old child being attended by a babysitter. Significant claims of comparative negligence involved.
May 2010) $2,000,000 settlement for a head-injured child who crawled through a gap in the children’s play area equipment and fell on his head.
(March 2004) $4,250,000 settlement for violation of contracts and the Indian Graves Recovery Act by an archeology firm while monitoring an excavation for a construction project. The claims included damages suffered by the Lummi Indian Nation as well as emotional distress claims on behalf of tribal members.
(April 2003) $2,400,000 settlement for an immigrant laborer who had his right leg amputated below the knee when the general contractor failed to provide guardrails for the 7’6” scaffolding on which he was working.