The recent shooting at Ballpark Village is a scary and sad moment in St. Louis' history of gun violence. Click here for the story on the shooting. But this is not a post about gun control, or the St. Louis City police, or anything like that. Since we are in the business of liability and injury claims, this post will concentrate on who is liable, if anyone, for the injuries to one and the death of another in this shooting.
This would be considered a premises liability case. The owner of a premises open to the public has an obligation to keep the premises safe for those who are invited to come upon the land, into the store, or what have you. In this particular case, the question will hinge on whether Ballpark Village knew or should have known that guns would be brought into the facility, and whether they had an obligation to do something about it.
In Missouri, for such a case as this, the question will hinge on what is called the "reasonably prudent person" standard. “The touchstone for the creation of a duty is foreseeability.” L.A.C. v. Ward Parkway Shopping Ctr. Co., L.P., 75 S.W.3d 247 (Mo. 2002) (Citing Madden v. C & K Barbecue Carryout, Inc., 758 S.W.2d 59 (Mo. Banc 1988)). Importantly, the Missouri Supreme Court holds that the existence of a duty is not one to protect against every possible injury that might occur, but whether or not a reasonably prudent person would have anticipated danger and provided against it. Id. (Citing Hoover's Dairy, Inc. v. Mid-America Dairymen, Inc., 700 S.W.2d 426, 431 (Mo. Banc 1985)).
If a lawsuit is filed, it will ultimately be up to a jury in St. Louis City to determine whether a reasonably prudent person (or corporation in this instance) would have anticipated that guns would be brought into Ballpark Village and protected against it with either metal detectors, pat downs, or any other method of keeping guns out of the facility.
If you have any questions or believe you have a potential injury claim, feel free to reach out. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families involved in this terrible tragedy.