If you ask most guys what makes a perfect bachelor party, chances are they’ll probably say a stripper or two, or four, or a whole club full of them. The more naked dancers the better. But it’s all fun and games until one of them crash lands on you and ruptures your bladder. Never will happen, you say? As always readers, prepare to be proven wrong.
A Pennsylvania man by the name of Patrick Gallagher was enjoying his last night as a bachelor with his buddies at the Penthouse Club, a local’s gentleman’s club. Unfortunately for him, the night wasn’t going to end with a wild story for the water cooler, at least not the kind he probably had in mind.
As part of Gallagher’s “Bachelor’s Package,” he was given a chance to come on stage with the dancers to receive a special surprise. According to his attorney (you know the story isn’t going to end well when a lawyer starts talking for you), once he got up there he was instructed to lie down. Things seemed to start to heat up when a dancer began to erotically climb up a pole above Gallagher. Unfortunately, the action then came to a screeching halt when the dancer allegedly slid down the pole straight onto Gallagher’s abdomen with apparently enough force to rupture his bladder and injure his back and hip, his attorney says. Now Gallagher is suing the club for $50,000 in medical costs, pain, and humiliation.
Definitely not how most would picture a perfect bachelor party, but such is life. On the other hand, it’s definitely an interesting civil lawsuit worthy of any law school exam.
Gallagher is accusing the club of negligence. We’ve talked a lot about the elements of this cornerstone of torts in the past. Basically in order to win a negligence lawsuit, a plaintiff must prove the defendant was responsible for five things: duty, breach of duty, cause-in-fact, proximate cause, and damages. Fail to establish any of these elements and the plaintiff loses their lawsuit.
If Gallagher’s version of the facts is true, then there’s a lot of merit to his case. However, rather than waste time going into an in-depth analysis of whether Gallagher can prove his cause of action for negligence, let’s instead assume that he can. After all, if a person climbs, unsecured, above you, it’s not too much of a stretch for both the climber and their employer to foresee the possibility that anyone beneath could be injured.
You see, the issue with Gallagher’s case doesn’t necessarily lie in proving the club and dancer were negligent, rather the problem lies with whether he was. Or more specifically, whether Gallagher knowingly assumed the risk of injury by lying down on stage in the first place.
Assumption of risk is a classic defense to any negligence tort. To prevail, a defendant needs to show that the plaintiff had actual knowledge of the risk involved in an activity and either expressly or impliedly volunteered to accept the risk anyway.
In Gallagher’s case, much in the same way that one could argue that the club and dancer knew a patron could be injured by a falling pole dancer, it can also be argued that Gallagher understood this danger, as well. Generally when a soon-to-be-husband is invited by exotic dancers to lie down next to a pole on a strip club stage, it’s probably safe to assume that sexy hijinks are about to ensue. In this sense, even if Gallagher were to argue that he didn’t exactly know what type of services the club’s “Bachelor Package” entailed, most reasonable people would’ve immediately known what was up as soon as they were asked to lie down. And unless Gallagher can prove he’s more innocent than Pollyanna, he likely knew, too.
For now, however, we’ll have to wait and see how his lawsuit plays out. Hopefully, Gallagher saved enough of those dollar bills to pay his lawyer.