• Tue. Jun 21st, 2022

Injured crowd surfer gets knockdown against security company

ByJanice K. Merrill

Apr 14, 2022

A crowd surfer who was injured after being knocked to the ground during a concert in Indianapolis convinced the Indiana Court of Appeals on Thursday that questions remained about whether event security had a duty of diligence when the incident occurred.

In November 2009, then-teen Seth Wiley attended a punk rock and metalcore concert at the Murat Center Egyptian Room in Indianapolis.

During the concert, Wiley’s crowd surfed several times. Each time, ESG Security Inc. personnel helped him down to the floor when he reached the front of the audience.

But on his last surf, when Wiley reached the front, the crowd kept pushing him forward and he fell to the ground, suffering serious bodily injuries. At the time, ESG staff were watching or attending to another client.

Wiley sued ESG, Murat and others in 2013 for damages alleging that the defendants had a duty to him to make the premises reasonably safe for him, a business guest, or exercise due diligence for the warn of the dangers of crowd surfing.

Wiley also claimed that the defendants failed in those duties “by allowing members of the crowd, including [him]of engaging in crowd surfing and failing to notify [him] of the dangers of engaging in crowd surfing”, and that their negligence was the immediate cause of his injuries.

The complaint alleged that Wiley “did nothing to contribute to the cause of his injuries.”

In March 2021, ESG filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that it owed no duty of care to Wiley with respect to the crowd surfing and that Wiley was at risk of his injuries.

In his deposition testimony, Wiley said he relied on the ESG to catch him, as he had observed the ESG guards helping others that night, and that he did not had not recognized or understood the potential dangers associated with this activity.

For its part, ESG asserted “[t]he fact that ESG has procedures in place to catch violators of the crowdsurfing policy and escort them out of the protected “front of the stage” area does not mean that ESG has assumed a duty to catch Wiley at every time he crowd surfed”, that Wiley should have known that crowd surfing was risky and that by doing so, he “ran the risk of his [] injury as a matter of law.

The Marion Superior Court denied ESG’s summary judgment on the issue of duty, but granted summary judgment on the issue of inherent risk.

But the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed Seth Wiley vs. ESG Security, Inc.., 21A-CT-2117, finding that there are genuine questions of material fact as to whether ESG assumed a duty on the night of the incident with respect to customers who surfed at the concert and that Wiley n has not expressly consented to release ESG from such obligation.

“To be knocked down or thrown over the heads of other members of the public is not the kind of harm normally expected of a concertgoer,” Judge Robert Altice wrote for the COA. “Thus, we decline to find that the duty of due diligence of a security company engaged to ensure the safety of those present at a concert venue required it to protect patrons from injury related to prohibited conduct. crowd surfing.”

However, he disagreed with ESG’s assertion that Wiley’s conduct relieved him of any duty he might have owed to him.

“Because here there is no evidence that Wiley expressly consented to take his risk of injury, Wiley’s conduct did not negate any duty that ESG had or could have assumed with respect to those who surfed that night,” Altice continued. “In conclusion, we reverse the trial court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of ESG and remand to the trier of fact to determine whether and to what extent ESG has assumed any obligation with respect to the surfing of crowd, and if so, for the resolution of the remaining issues, including breach, causation and comparative fault.”