What's the casino's duty to insure safety and prevent foreseeable harm?

by Renee
(Minnesota)

I was in a casino in Minnesota and got into an argument with a Poker Supervisor about a decision affecting the tournament. I raised my voice so others could hear my concern and was subsequently told I could not have any alcoholic beverages. (I had only had 2 at that point and wasn't feeling them yet).

I finished the drink I had and was asked to leave because they do not allow patrons to finish any alcoholic beverages after asking them to refrain. I asked for a refund of my tournament entry fee and verbalized my disapproval when that request was denied. There is video of this and the remaining time I was in the building.

As the security officer and I walked toward the exit I told him that it would take several minutes for my brother to arrive to pick me up. He insisted I leave immediately and not wait.

I refused and reminded him that it was 20 degrees below zero outside with a 40 below windchill (Jan 2014). I stated it was too dangerous to be outside and that I would wait in the lobby or doorway for my ride. In the video the security manager can be seen pushing me, unprovoked for unknown reasons.

My reaction was to raise an eyebrow and chastise him for wanting to beat up a 40 year old women for no reason at all. We started walking toward the door again. Without provocation he can be seen later grabbing me forcefully in an attempt to move me toward the door more quickly. He stated I better leave right then or he would call the cops.

I told him and the guards around him to go ahead and call the cops because I wasn't doing anything wrong and that it was unsafe for me to go outside with the clothing I had in freezing temperatures. Rather than call the cops as he had threatened he instead instructed a security guard to put handcuffs on me.

I said I would just leave rather than be forcibly held and that they had no reason to be physically touching or assaulting me. I had not been aggressive or threatening. As they were putting handcuffs on my wrists I resisted. A couple of times I attempted to push the large security guard off of me when he had me backed up against a wall with handcuffs against my back. The police arrived and I left with the officer with no resistance.

I have suffered injury in my wrists, as well as face criminal charges for disorderly conduct and assault for this experience. The tape clearly shows the guard pushing me and later grabbing me unprovoked several times before I resisted or defended myself.

In Minnesota there is a right to defend yourself against false arrest if you are in fear of great danger to yourself. I was in fear of the deadly weather and of the treatment I was receiving by the onsite security team at the casino.

I have several questions:

1) To what point did the casino have to insure my safety? The weather outside was deadly cold and several people died that week because of it. Did they have the right to disregard my health and safety and force me to wait outside rather than in there lobby?

2) Shouldn't I be able to get a copy of the video to prove in civil and/or criminal court that the security team used excessive force?

3) I am having a hard time finding MN state specific laws but I read that bouncers can only use force equal to that of the patron they are dispelling. Doesn't that same standard apply to security guards?

4) If the statute of limitations for filing criminal or personal injury lawsuits against the company and guards expired prior to me being made aware of the injuries I sustained, and prior to my discovery that evidence existed to prove my case, do I have any recourse?

As a footnote, I had been attending that casino for over 20 years and had never been asked to leave before that evening. Security didn't even know my name even though I frequented the business 3 or 4 times a week. Thank you very much for any insight.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "What's the casino's duty to insure safety and prevent foreseeable harm?":

Renee (Minnesota):

Question 1

"To what point did the casino have to insure my safety? The weather outside was deadly cold and several people died that week because of it. Did they have the right to disregard my health and safety and force me to wait outside rather than in there (sic) lobby?"

Answer:

A Casino has a legal duty of care to do everything within reason to assure their property is safe from dangerous conditions which may cause harm or make it unsafe for casino patrons, and others legally upon the property. From the facts you present, there is no evidence any dangerous conditions existed at the time you were inside the casino.

It is likely because of the low temperatures you wore a coat when coming to the casino. While it is arguable the casino security personnel should have taken into account the extremely cold weather, fortunately, you were not injured.

The casino is very likely privately owned. As a result, the casino owners, through their employees, have a right to ask patrons to leave the premises and to do so for just about any reason.

In your case, the casino security personnel determined you were being disruptive. They wanted you to leave. They had a right to do so. You refused to do so. Moreover, you told the security guards to call the cops. They complied with your request.

You state, "...in the video the security manager can be seen pushing me, unprovoked for unknown reasons." This would imply you have already seen the video. You don't explain how that could have occurred.

Question 2

"Shouldn't I be able to get a copy of the video to prove in civil and/or criminal court that the security team used excessive force?"

Answer:

The video tape you refer to is privately owned and controlled. You do not have a legal right to a copy of the video. However, in the event a lawsuit is filed against the casino, your attorney would be able to subpoena the video.

Question 3

"I am having a hard time finding MN state specific laws but I read that bouncers can only use force equal to that of the patron they are dispelling. Doesn't that same standard apply to security guards?"

Answer:

The casino's right to remove you from the premises falls under Minnesota Statutes Section 327.73 1 (a)(2). Under this statute, an innkeeper (including casino owner) "...may remove or cause to be removed from a hotel a guest or other person who while on the premises... acts in an obviously intoxicated or disorderly manner, destroys or threatens to destroy hotel property, or causes or threatens to cause a disturbance."

Minnesota Statute Section 327.73 1 (a)(2)

There are always two sides to every story. In this case, it is difficult to believe the casino personnel escorted you off of the casino premises for no legitimate reason. You were very likely acting in a manner which was loud and disruptive to other patrons.

It appears you brought all of this upon yourself. If you had not been disruptive you would not have been asked to leave the premises. Once you were disruptive the security guards asked you to leave. You refused. The guards had a right to escort you off the premises.

The security guard gave you an opportunity to leave under your own accord. You refused. At that point the security guard had a right to detain you while waiting for the police to arrive.

If you still believe you were treated unfairly, we encourage you to meet with a local attorney to discuss the facts of the incident and your options in more detail.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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