b'GUEST VIEWActive Shooter Events: Prevention & Your LiabilityFirst and foremost, campground owners should consider developing an active shooter policy. Having an active shooter policy can mitigate the risk of injury,Christine death of employees and campers, destruction of property, disruption of businessTayloroperations and potential reputational harm.As terrible news floods our screensSo, what can be done?employeesandcampersentertherence, so they had no duty to warn. withshootingsatmajoreventsandFirstandforemost,campgroundcampground. These bag searches mustStarting in 2012, the courts reason-small businessesalong with a recentowners should consider developing anbe voluntary, so it is important that ifing began to change: what was unfore-shootout at an RV park in Arizonaitactive shooter policy. Having an activeyou plan to implement bag searches,seeable in 1984, is now unfortunately begs the question: what should camp- shooter policy can mitigate the risk ofyou let your employees and camperslikely to be legally considered foresee-ground owners do? The answer is not ainjury,deathofemployeesandknow ahead of time. Since most camp- able. As more shootings happen, the simple one but can be broken down intocampers, destruction of property, dis- grounds are private businesses, camp- court has slowly begun to shift, impos-two categories: (1) What you are legallyruption of business operations and po- groundscanmandatebagsearchesing liability on the business as well. In required to do; and (2) What you aretential reputational harm. Additionally,before entering the grounds; however,Axelrodv.CinemarkHoldingsInc., legally able to do.havinganactiveshooterpolicycanyou want to ensure that during the bagwhen deciding on a motion for sum-Although, as with everything, theremake employees and campers feel safe.searches, there is no physical contactmary judgment if a case should pro-are different laws in each state that youAn active shooter policy usually con- with the bag owner.ceed, the court stated that based on the will want to consult before implement- tains the following: (1) a prevention planCampground owners should be warygrimhistoryofmassshootingsand ing any policies, the Fourteenth Amend- or strategy; (2) employee guidelines andof mandating bag searches when guestskillings that have occurred in more re-ment of the United States Constitutioninstructions should a shooting occur;or employees leave the grounds, as re- cent times coupled with evidence of a prohibits any law from abridging ones(3) an emergency action plan for em- quiring such could be seen as false im- perceived risk, that there was a genuine rightsandfreedom.AndtheFourthployeesandcampers;and(4)are- prisonmentifapersonrefusesthedispute as to whether the defendant Amendment protects ones privacy bysponse plan.search. Likewise, if bag searches are im- should have known of such a risk, and if prohibiting unreasonable searches andAs a part of the active shooter policy,plemented, then everyones bags mustso, could thereafter be found liable. Al-seizures, which can impede on onescampground owners may want to thinkbesearchedtoavoiddiscriminationthough ultimately this business owner ability to protect their campground. about implementing a bag search asclaims. As always, before implementingwas eventually let off, this demonstrates this policy, you should consult with yourthechanginginterpretationofthe local law enforcement.courts. As this all seems daunting, can youNow, this brings us back to the MGM choose to do nothing?casewithout the certainty that they Note that there may be a legal liabilitywould not be found liable, it can be as-should an employee or a camper be in- sumed that MGM made the economic jured in an active shooter event due todecision to settle instead of risking a thelackofawell-roundedactiveworse outcome in front of a jury. This is shooter policy and related training. Fordue to the fact that we are now in a time an employee, legal liability would bewhere businesses may be held liable if founded upon negligence of the busi- they choose to do nothing. ness; namely, that the business has aAdditionally,Iwouldalsocaution duty to behave in a responsible mannerthat if your campground mandates ac-to its employees, which may includetive shooter policies, training or bag formulating an active shooter policy sosearches, but falls short of performing that employees are educated as to whator partaking in them, there can also be protocol needs to be followed to maxi- a legal liability. For instance, missing mize their safety. Furthermore, basedtraining or not adhering to the policies on the current change in sentiment, byin place can also open your business up notimplementinganactiveshooterto negligence claims for not performing policy, your campground is taking a riskthedutyyouowedandpromised. of injury to its customers, employeesTherefore, if you are considering insti-and reputation.tuting a policy, make sure that you fol-Tofurthercementthischanginglow it strictly. landscape, I point you to an unfortu- Lastly, there has been discussion re-nately well-known 2017 mass shootinggarding insurance coverage as part of event at the MGM in Las Vegas. Thethe MGM Las Vegas settlement was paid families and victims impacted by thisfor by insurance and thus, the expan-incident sued MGM Las Vegas which ul- sion of coverage might be something for timately led to a $751 million settlementcampground owners to investigate withwhy did the business pay? Histori- their agents and carriers. cally, courts would not have found theAs with most things, we can neither business liablewhat changed?predict nor prevent all outcomes, but Back in 1984, a mass shooting tookwe as business owners must carefully placeinCaliforniaataMcDonaldsweigh our options when considering where 21 were left dead and 11 injured.what policies to implement and what it The victims and their families sued Mc- means both for our legal liability and Donalds and they lost. The court foundthe safety of our guests and employees. that the shooting was not foreseeable and that it was so unlikely to occurChristine Taylor, is a principal part-within the setting of modern life that anerat The TowneLawFirm,P.C.in reasonably prudent business enterprisethe firms Albany, N.Y., office, who fo-would not consider its occurrence in at- cuses her practice in the areas of hospi-tempting to satisfy its general obligationtalitylaw,businesslaw,laborand to protect business invitees from rea- employment law, real estate law, trusts sonably foreseeable criminal conduct.and estate law, and litigation. Taylor Thus, not foreseeable, no duty and ulti- has grown up in the camping industry, mately no liability.herfamilyhasownedthreecamp-In2007,courtsstillfeltthesame,grounds in both the Kampgrounds of when in Virginia, a case arising out ofAmericaInc.(KOA)andYogiBears the 2007 shooting of 32 people on theJellystone Park Camp-Resort franchise Virginia Tech campus, the court againsystems.Parkownerscanemail deduced that at the time of the shoot- info@townelaw.comforachanceto ings, this was not a foreseeable occur- have their questions answered.WCM14 April 2023 Woodalls Campground Magazine'