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“Binge of Booze” and Nighttime Violence: West Palm Beach Bans New Nightclubs

The city of West Palm Beach is attempting to ward off drunken violence in its entertainment district, with a nine-month ban of new nightclub applications downtown. The Sun Sentinel called it a preemptive strike on what the city believes could be “a binge of booze and violence in the entertainment district”. The Sentinel reports that the moratorium will run until September 2011 if passed in a second and final vote during an upcoming city commission meeting.
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The ban is an addition to the ordinance passed in 2004 that allowed no more than two nightclubs or bars on each block of Clematis Street, described at the time by Mayor Lois Frankel as a haven of nighttime violence, which she attributed to a booming nightclub scene. That ordinance did not address the rest of downtown West Palm Beach. Frankel recently suggested the ban on all new downtown applications while the city considers new zoning regulations. The Sentinel reported that City Commissioner Bill Moss said there has been difficulty with police calls in several south end nightclubs.

Fort Lauderdale, Davie and Miami Beach are among the South Florida cities that have seen fatal nightclub violence in recent months. One man was killed and five people were injured during two separate shooting incidents at night clubs in Fort Lauderdale and Davie, Florida. In Miami Beach, a pistol was slipped into a nightclub and used by a gang member to kill a young man thought to be the leader of a rival gang.

Inadequate security and premises liability lawsuits can unfold from violent crime in resort and recreational areas, including nightclubs. Premises liability may result from negligent security, inadequate security personnel, insufficient lighting, inadequate security equipment, or other causes. In negligent security cases, the plaintiff who has been injured due to a criminal act brings an action against the owner or manager of the premises or business. Those who are in control or in a position to prevent the incident where the plaintiff was injured are the parties who are most often defendants. The law governing these cases is derived from the general principle that those who own or possess property have a duty to protect users from accidental, negligent, and intentional acts of third parties.

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