Josh Hedgman was recently instructed to defend a serious brain injury claim following an assault that was alleged to have been committed by a doorman.
Josh represented a security company that engaged doormen to provide security services at a pub. The Claimant visited a pub and had to be removed when the pub staff refused to serve him any more alcohol and he became aggressive. Having been removed from the pub, the Claimant approached the doormen on a number of occasions. He was pushed back twice and, the second time, stumbled backwards before striking his head on the ground. The Claimant then got up but fell over again shortly afterwards. He lost consciousness after that second fall and alleged to have suffered a significant subarachnoid haemorrhage.
Josh represented the defendant security company at a trial on the issue of liability. The trial went before His Honour Judge Carr and the claim was dismissed in full.
The Judge accepted that the degree of force used by the doorman was reasonable, proportionate and obviously necessary. The Judge considered that to find liability would be to import far too much responsibility on doormen who were doing a difficult job. The Judge found that the Claimant had reverse engineered his case by contending that the speed at which he fell, together with the significant brain injury that he suffered, meant that excessive force must have been applied in the first place. That approach was to put the cart before the horse.
More interesting, was the dismissal of the Claimant’s ‘back up’ case that the defendant’s doormen were negligent in allowing the Claimant to walk down the road after the fast fall but before the second fall during which the significant brain injury was sustained.
The Judge accepted Josh’s submission that there was simply no duty of care on a person to intervene and provide assistance in the absence of the negligent infliction of injury. The Claimant’s reliance on Robinson v Chief Constable of Yorkshire Police  UKSC 4 was misplaced. That authority did not stand for the proposition that the mere infliction was enough to establish a duty. On the contrary, Robinson was an example of a case in which the defendant – in that case the police – had negligently caused the infliction of injury.
The Judge also accepted that breach would not follow on the facts in any event. The Claimant had rubbed his head after the first fall but did not exhibit any loss of consciousness or bleeding. It was therefore impossible to say that the doormen should have noticed and intervened. In any case, it would arguably have been unlawful for the doormen to have detained the Claimant as opposed to letting him walk off. Neither would a 999 call have made any difference as an ambulance would not have been on the scene before the second fall.
Josh Hedgman was instructed by Mitch Bennett of Plexus Law.