A St. Louis jury has delivered a $5.2 million verdict in a wrongful death and personal injury lawsuit over a tent collapse at a downtown sports bar. Reference St. Louis Dispatch. The family of a man killed at Kilroy’s Sports Bar downtown has reached a $548,000 settlement with the company that leased and installed a tent that collapsed on him during a storm. Reference St. Louis Dispatch.

What is also noteworthy in this ruling is the shared liability between the client and the tent rental company. The shared liability decision stemmed from the failure of the client to initiate an evacuation plan and the failure of the tent rental company to install and inspect the tent correctly.

Speculating on the “What If”  will not change the St Louis tragedy. Nevertheless as an industry, it is essential to establish a standard of reasonable care for future events. Evacuation plans can be the starting point. The focal point of a successful evacuation plan requires the collaboration of vested partners sharing the responsibility to carry out procedures that are designed for their event.

In the case of a tragedy, producing an evacuation plan without all of the parties having vested interest in the project and understanding their role in the plan can end up in litigation with finger-pointing on both sides. The outcome will still end up being shared.

The tent and special event industry may want to go back and re-evaluate evacuation plans that do not include shared responsibility. The component of shared responsibility may add some time and cost to the event, however, if the industry is still dubious, remember that the St Louis verdict gave us 548,000 new reasons to rethink collaboration.

The decision begins with the tent and special event companies accepting the idea of shared responsibility or be confronted with the verdict of shared liability.

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