Judge: San Francisco 49ers’ insurer should share cost over bathroom assault suit

By Michelle de Leon | Dec 19, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO – A California court declared that Great Divide, the insurance company handling the concerns of the San Francisco 49ers, should share the burden of the costs brought about by the state court action filed against the security services in the arena.

U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh declared that Great Divide must be held partially liable in the lawsuit filed against Elite Show Services Inc. following the physical attack on two men in a San Francisco 49ers game in 2014. According to the ruling, both the stadium runners and the football team could potentially be held partially liable for the assault. First Mercury Insurance Co. is the company shouldering the lawsuit expenses against Elite.

“Plaintiff has alleged that there is a potential that the underlying state court action in the instant case would lead to liability for the Forty Niner defendants, the city of Santa Clara, or the Santa Clara Stadium Authority but not for Elite,” explained Koh of the court’s decision to tag Great Divide in the lawsuit, according to Law 360. “This potential for defendant to be responsible for liability in the state court action is sufficient to trigger defendant’s duty to defend.”

The issue stemmed from an incident in October 2014 when plaintiffs Amish and Kiran Patel were allegedly brutally beaten in a restroom at the Levi’s Stadium during a season game of the San Francisco 49ers against the Kansas City Chiefs. The 32-year-old Kiran suffered from a severe traumatic brain injury while his brother, Amish, also faced some injuries, Law 360 reported. The two were beaten up while waiting in line in the bathroom by allegedly drunk and violent fans.

“The environment of the 49ers attracts a bad crowd. People get drunk in the parking lot and come into the stadium acting aggressively. You shouldn’t go to the bathroom and come back with a brain injury,” shared William Smith, the lawyer of the victims, following the filing of the lawsuit, according to the SF Gate.

In the ruling of Koh to order Great Divide to help in the defense of First Mercury, she cited that one of the issues pointed out by the victims is the failure of the city of Santa Clara and the stadium to provide enough urinals and tailgating sections of the parking lots. According to them, this situation inevitably causes frustration and possibly anger from the crowd – something the organizers could have anticipated.

While the security team failed to screen and boot from the stadium the individuals who looked to be too intoxicated or violent, they could not be held liable for the lack of toilet facilities. Hence, the incident could also be deduced to be partly caused by the negligence of Great Divide’s clients.

In addition, First Mercury noted that the policy of Great Divide included liquor liability while theirs did not. Moreover, the attackers were customers who bought alcohol from the vendors covered by the team’s insurance company.

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