In a case decided the first of this month the Arizona Court of Appeals has further addressed the question of when a person or group owes a duty to protect others. InBarkhust v. The Kingsmen of Route 66, Inc., 685 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 29 (App. Div. I, May 1, 2014) a group known as the Kingsmen organized and advertised “Rodeo Days” in Kingman. One of the events it invited the public to attend was entertainment and a dance contest at Dunbar Entertainment. The Kingsmen did not own the Dunbar premises nor did it run the specific entertainment event. The Kingsmen had no control over how the event was conducted, was not responsible provide security and did not control the serving of alcohol. After the event two drunk patrons, one under age, attacked the plaintiff and seriously injured him. He sued Dunbar, the security company and the Kingsmen. The Arizona Court of Appeals found that a group that merely promotes a civic event and solicits sponsorships has no duty to protect people attending activities that are part of the event where they have no control.
This case makes sense. If the court had allowed this claim against the Kingsmen to proceed it could very well discourage cities, towns and civic groups from hosting festivals, celebrations and athletic events. It simply would not be fair to hold a group responsible for something they had no control over. Merely advertising and sponsoring a public event does not create the type of special relationship between a civic group and members of the public attending the event that the law requires to create the duty to protect the public from injury at the event.