As an expert witness regarding crowd management, Steve Adelman advocates for safe practices, regardless of whether that favors the plaintiff or defendant in any given case. He is a staunch defender of venues and events that meet the applicable standard of care, and a tough critic of those that do not.
Through his work with the operators of sports and entertainment venues and events throughout North America, as well as his study of the codes, standards, and “best practices” literature regarding event safety and security, Steve Adelman has a comprehensive understanding of what constitutes reasonable conduct in the production and operation of live events both within brick and mortar buildings and on green fields.
When hiring an expert witness, it is important that they be able to understand the documents created in litigation and then convey their opinions coherently, both orally and in writing. In other words, when dealing with lawyers, it helps to be a lawyer. Steve Adelman writes expert reports the way the most effective experts have written them in his cases, carefully citing the factual record and then applying that record to authoritative industry sources in order to reach a defensible conclusion. And because he has taken countless depositions himself, Steve Adelman is comfortable using sworn testimony as an opportunity to teach the logic of his position.
Here are some issues about which Steve Adelman has been engaged as a standard of care expert.
Crowd Management and Security
Crowd management and security involves much more than using magnetometers at ingress and posting big guys at the barricades. There are industry standards for crowd managers, particularly the National Fire Protection Association’s Life Safety Code, and important planning considerations, especially the factors of Time, Space, Information, and Energy. Similarly, security providers must adjust their tactics to the reasonably foreseeable circumstances presented by each event.
Steve Adelman’s crowd management and security engagements have included the following:
- Testified for a West Coast concert promoter suing to recover the value of refunded tickets and expenses from an electronic dance music event shut down by the fire marshal;
- Wrote a detailed report regarding event security where a bystander inside a Canadian arena was injured by concert patrons fighting over spilled beer;
- Prepared a report in a subrogation case regarding management of crowd egress at a Western ski resort following a summer motocross event which ended with a fatal RV rollover by a departing race participant;
- Prepared a report for a Mid-Atlantic event promoter regarding crowd management where a general admission concert attendee stole a bottle of alcohol and threw it at the artist performing on stage, striking him in the head and leading to many cancelled tour dates.
Emergency Policies and Procedures
Emergency policies are not one-size-fits-all. They must address the reasonably foreseeable risks for the events, crowds, and weather conditions that apply on any given day, and the people charged with implementing those policies must be trained to implement them. The authors should be aware of important issues such as the Incident Command System, private weather consulting, and trigger charts to activate the emergency action plan. As helpful as an event organizer’s documentation can be in proving that they behaved reasonably under the circumstances, policy documents that are not followed or internal communications showing a lack of training can be the clearest evidence that an organizer has failed to meet even their own standard of care.
Steve Adelman’s expert engagements regarding emergency policies and procedures have included these cases:
- Wrote and defended a comprehensive report regarding communication failures that prevented activation of a severe weather plan in the multi-fatality lawsuit arising from a catastrophic Midwestern outdoor stage roof collapse.
- Prepared a report regarding the reasonableness of an East Coast race track’s severe weather evacuation plan in a fatal lightning strike case;
- Prepared a report regarding the implementation of a weapon safety policy at a Western gun show where a patron was shot in the eye.
Maintenance of Safe Premises
Sometimes maintaining an event space so it is free of slip and trip hazards can be a challenge. Here are some of the cases in which Steve Adelman has opined about premises maintenance issues:
- Wrote an expert report regarding the manner in which a Southern basketball arena dealt with a wet spill on the concourse, which the Court expressly cited when granting judgment in the client’s favor;
- Prepared an opinion regarding the reasonableness of a covering over electrical cables near the entrance of a Western outdoor festival;
- Wrote a report leading to favorable settlement of a slip and fall case involving a supermarket unloading a pallet of bagged ice.