Since I graduated from Boston College Law School and became an attorney in 1994, my practice has focused on personal injury, property damage, and premises liability litigation. By maximizing the opportunities my cases have presented, I now concentrate on the safety and security issues that arise when people are invited to enter a public accommodation for a live event. Here is a brief summary of my qualifications and expertise in that area.
In 2002, I litigated a case in which a young man nearly died in a crowd crush during a large music festival. Through two years of exhaustive discovery, which included deposing the rap performer Eminem, I learned how national event organizers addressed reasonably foreseeable risks, and I was exposed to the body of literature regarding crowd management, emergency planning, risk management, and biomechanics which have been incorporated into important treatises, industry codes, and regulations. Here is a video about my “Eminem case.”
For ten years beginning in 2006, I was a member of a leading trade organization for venue managers and their security providers, now known as the International Association of Venue Managers. As a practicing attorney knowledgeable about special event risk management, I was invited to join the faculty of IAVM’s Academy for Venue Safety & Security, where I taught about risk and safety to the operational leaders of stadiums, arenas, performing arts centers, convention facilities, and other public accommodations. In 2008, I created Venue Management Law School, an advanced course for senior managers and security providers regarding the legal issues that arise in public accommodations. Since then, I have regularly been invited to discuss the standard of care for venue and event professionals at a wide variety of conferences throughout North America.
In 2011, following the Indiana State Fair outdoor stage roof collapse, I joined with other event industry professionals to form the Event Safety Alliance. ESA focuses on identifying, distilling, and teaching the operational best practices and decision-making criteria that currently exist for the live event industry. In January, 2014 we published the Event Safety Guide, a treatise whose thirty-five chapters help industry professionals recognize safe workplace practices, heighten their appreciation for life safety, and make reasonable decisions in their daily work. I am Vice President of the Event Safety Alliance, an author and editor of the Event Safety Guide, and an organizer and presenter at its conferences and corporate training sessions. Since 2016, I have been Chair of the joint Event Safety Alliance and ESTA (the Entertainment Standards and Technology Association) group creating a first of its kind Crowd Management ANSI standard, which will provide authoritative guidance for venue and event professionals throughout the United States.
In 2015, I created a graduate seminar, “Risk Management in Venues,” as an adjunct faculty member of Arizona State University through its new Sports Law and Business program, a joint offering of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the W.P. Carey School of Business. Each Spring semester, I lead students through issues regarding safety and security at live events that have arisen over the preceding year. Unfortunately, the headlines provide a steady stream of new material, and reported decisions from around the United States offer many lenses through which to consider venue and event professionals’ legal duty of care. For the Fall 2018 semester, I developed an online class for ASU undergraduates, “Sports Facilities Management,” also focused on risk management at live events.
I have become immersed in the industry I serve. Unlike most “sports and entertainment” lawyers, who deal with either intellectual property rights or talent representation, my focus is on live events, both back of house and in the crowd. I visit many venues and attend many shows and games, but I am usually looking somewhere other than the stage or the playing field because the greatest safety issues often lie elsewhere.
On the risk management and litigation side of my practice, my clients have included venue operators, event promoters, teams, security companies, and equipment lessors. Through my frequent speaking engagements and monthly Adelman on Venues newsletter and vlog, I have strong professional relationships with industry leaders around the world.
On the expert witness side of my practice, I use the same analytical framework to apply the facts of a given situation to the applicable standard of care, whether that standard is based on industry codes, laws or regulations, or risk management treatises for operations managers and event professionals.
In January, 2010, after spending 15 years with large law firms in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Arizona, I opened Adelman Law Group, PLLC to accommodate my increasingly focused interests. Since that time, I have concentrated on risk management, litigation, and standard of care expert testimony regarding premises liability, crowd management, and event safety and security throughout the United States and Canada.