Saturday, June 6, 2009

Update: Spiros is Shutting Down for Good; Potential Lawsuit Might Follow

spiros victim
Victim recovers at Brackenridge in this Statesman photo by Ralph Barrera

The Austin American-Statesman is reporting that Spiros nightclub, the site of a shooting that injured eight club patrons two weeks ago, is closing its doors permanently. But it wasn't the district attorney or the Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission that did it; the owners of the controversial club made the decision to pull the plug themselves, deciding it was in their best interests to do so. This is good news, and I applaud them for it. It's good to see someone make a responsible choice, even if it is a cover-your-ass kind of decision.

Now there's word that Jordan Sheehy, a 20-year-old Spiros shooting victim who was in critical condition, might pursue legal action against the club's owners. I was all for closing Spiros because of its long history of police response calls. But I don't know how I feel about a potential lawsuit. We live in an obnoxiously litigious society as it is. Two days before the shooting, the world's most litigious man sued the Guinness Book of World Records for naming him the world's most litigious man! God damn. The only thing more annoying than frivolous lawsuits is lawyers.

But is a lawsuit against the owners of Spiros legit? It's hard to argue with someone who lay in critical condition in a Brackenridge hospital bed after a bullet through the abdomen. However, the legal question would be this: Could the owners have prevented Sheehy from being shot, and if so are they then guilty of negligence by not doing so?

First, the shooting occurred outside of the club, not inside. If the shooting took place inside the club, then I say sue the owners and the bouncer who failed to detect a gun on a patron or performer. But since it happened in front of Spiros, after closing time, what could the owners have done about it? Nothing, I don't think. If anything, it's on the security guards and the police to prevent violence in that situation.

Before you say WAIT A MINUTE! and accuse me of hypocrisy for advocating the club's closure but not a lawsuit against the owners, let me try to state my case: A club that averages almost ten police responses a month (one every three or days) is obviously a nuisance and doesn't deserve its liquor license, in my opinion anyway. But being shot outside of the club at 2:15, fifteen minutes after closing time is a freak occurrence. It's a freak occurrence that is symptomatic of the club's problems and adds to the reasons for its closure, but it's such a freak occurrence that I don't see how the owners are responsible for a bullet in your stomach long after the club closed its doors. It's just not res ipsa loquitur enough, in my eyes.

It's sad that an innocent Sheehy bore the brunt of the incident, but it doesn't merit a lawsuit against the owners. Against the police? Maybe. But, then, are we going to sue the cops every time they fail to protect us? Remember, we pay their salaries with speeding tickets and parking violations from our pockets. I don't want to give APD any more incentive to set up speed traps. If my reasoning is flimsy, I apologize. I'm not a legal scholar. Just a kid with a useless journalism degree and an opinion.

Okay, I'll go ahead and take Party Ends' advice and chill out to some inspiring Youtube footage now. Weirdly enough, I'm going to see The Boxing Lesson play at Emo's tonight. Let's see how their luck goes this time.

So, what do y'all think about the closure and/or the potential lawsuit?

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Anonymous said...

hello it was the two men who started the shooting that also started a fight inside the bar!! the venue didn't respond in the correct way by notifying the police who are outside the door all night, i know how hard it is to say hey officer these guys are getting rough in my club. the fact is this bar cloged the sidewalks and caused a riots way too often. I work down town and some over my co-workers were almost caught in the cross fire. the owners had the coming for a long time. if you are running a club and you are catering to a certain clientel you have to take precautions

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about the club owners not being held responsible for the shooting and our society being obnoxiously litigious. Granted the club has catered to a certain clientele where violence is all too common, but Austin as a community would've hardly seen this coming. Austin has always been one of the safer places in America to live and random shooting just aren't something that one should expect. One would hope that if the club owners could have foreseen this by any means, then they would have done what they could have to prevent it, but I guess if they get taken to court that it was they'll be trying to prove. Ultimately though, it happened outside of the club after the doors were closed, should one be sued for negligence if a crime occurs in their front yard while they're watching T.V. or what have would you feel about being sued for something you ultimately have no control over...