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Like any experienced music festival attendee, Michael Ryan, of Panama City Beach, Florida, purchased VIP tickets for the Gulf Coast Jam country music festival in 2014. That gave Ryan access to unlimited quantities of free alcohol in the VIP area.
And like any experienced litigant, Ryan doesn't explicitly admit to consuming any of that free booze before he fell off a platform in the VIP section, "causing him to suffer severe and permanent injuries resulting in loss." Ryan also doesn't elaborate on those injuries in his lawsuit against the company hosting the music fest and the company providing security, but he is asking for $15,000 in compensation.
"Given the foreseeability that festival attendees with VIP credentials may consume alcohol, (Gulf Coast Jam) should have taken appropriate steps to protect the health, safety and well-being of such individuals which includes providing an area that was free from hazardous conditions," Ryan's lawsuit states (without confessing to such consumption). The lawsuit adds that Gulf Coast Jam "breached their duty to provide an appropriate, safe and secure area for its attendees with VIP credentials by erecting, promoting and implementing a restricted and reserved area for such individuals which was unfit for its intended purpose."
The injury suit, which names Panama City Beach Entertainment LLC (owner of Gulf Coast Jam) and Dothan Security Inc. (DSI), also asserts "it was reasonably foreseeable that alcohol would be consumed by some to the point where normal faculties might be impaired." Ryan (who has not conceded that he consumed free alcohol to the point of impairment) allegedly lost his balance and fell through a set of stairs on a "multi-level elevated platform" after a DSI security guard told him to sit down on one of the stairs. Ryan is alleging that Gulf Coast Jam should have known that unlimited free alcohol (which he may or may not have consumed), insufficient lighting, and an ill-constructed platform in the VIP area could result in an injury.
While so-called "dram shop laws" can hold bars and alcohol retailers liable for injuries or deaths of third parties caused by over-served or severely intoxicated patrons, they won't help Ryan. First, most of those laws don't cover injuries sustained by those over-served patrons themselves, and second, Ryan didn't drink any of the unlimited, free alcohol. Obviously.
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