Court of Appeals Rejects Premises Liability Claim Because Plaintiffs Failed to Establish Applicable Standard of Care

On October 23, 2014, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals decided Night and Day Management, LLC v. Butler, Nos. 13-CV-944 & 13-CV-1168, slip op. (D.C. Oct. 23, 2014) in which it considered whether the trial court properly entered summary judgment for the defendants in a negligence action for premises liability. Id. at 2. The plaintiffs in this case alleged that they sustained personal injuries in a fight at the defendants’ night club and that they would not have sustained those injuries if the defendants had provided adequate security. Id. at 2-3, 5. The trial court entered summary judgment for the defendants because the plaintiffs failed to establish a specific standard of care for night club security. Id. at 2, 5-6. The Court of Appeals affirmed on the grounds that (1) the plaintiffs could not establish a specific standard of care through the presentation of evidence because doing so would have required expert testimony and the plaintiffs failed to proffer such testimony; and (2) the plaintiffs could not establish a specific standard of care pursuant to the doctrine of negligence per se because they failed to proffer a statute or other authority imposing a sufficiently specific obligation that the defendants allegedly violated. Id. at 9-15. To view the Court of Appeals’ opinion, click here. For background about actions for negligence and, in particular, premises liability in the District of Columbia, see Tort Claims and Defenses in the District of Columbia §§ 8, 13 (2014).