Philadelphia court finds nightclub not liable for police officer's injury

By Jim Boyle | Jul 2, 2014

Possible injuries are one of the hazards of becoming a police officer in Philadelphia, and a

third-party establishment cannot be held liable when an officer is hurt while responding to a call, according to a ruling held by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

The decision sustained an objection by attorneys defending Obafemi Simeon Taiwo and CST Entertainment, manager and owner of Lids Lounge on Woodland Avenue in Philadelphia and dismissed with prejudice a personal injury claim filed by officer Christopher Juszczyszyn.

According to the ruling, Juszczyszyn arrived at Lids with fellow officers in the early morning hours of April 20, 2012, responding to reports of a patron groping female customers, drinking other people's drinks and getting into fights.

During the response, Juszczyszyn suffered injuries and filed a civil action against the owners for negligence and Dram Shop liability, which holds an establishment responsible for serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated patrons.

The court opinion dismissed the claim, saying that Juszczyszyn knew the risks inherent with entering the nightclub and responding to unruly behavior. The court noted that Pennsylvania has not adopted the "Fireman's Rule," which bars officers from filing personal injury claims against third party businesses and individuals for injuries sustained in the course of performing their official duties.

When an officer enters an establishment in Pennsylvania, he is treated just like any other licensee or guest of the business, which is usually held liable for personal injuries if the premises had not been safely secured from possible injuries or the licensees had not been warned. However, in the case of a police officer, the liability does not hold because the licensee knows and appreciates the risk involved with entering the premises.

"In this litigation, Officer Juszczyszyn knew he was going to join other officers at a bar where a disturbance was ongoing," wrote Judge Frederica Massiah-Jackson. "He knew and recognized the chance of confrontation and altercation and propensity for violence with patrons who were intoxicated."

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