Georgia, and Atlanta in particular, are well known for their active nightlife, including a wide variety of adult entertainment options. Unfortunately, they’re also well known for their devastating levels of gun violence. All too often, these two things end up going together.
If you’ve been shot at a strip club or gentlemen’s club, or if you’ve lost a loved one to such a shooting, you may have questions about your legal rights. Are strip clubs responsible for shootings? Are there assumed risks to attending a strip club? Is strip club security a legal requirement, and if so, what would be considered adequate security for a strip club? How can you file a wrongful death lawsuit?
The short answer is that, yes, strip clubs do have a responsibility to provide whatever security they have reason to believe will be necessary for their patrons’ safety. Gun violence is not an assumed risk of visiting or working in a strip club; in fact, the high frequency of gun violence in strip clubs actually increases rather than decreases club owners’ legal responsibilities. Though every situation is unique, negligent security in a strip club is generally a valid reason for a lawsuit after a strip club shooting.
Below, we’ll go into more detail on strip club shootings in Georgia, how they happen, and the responsibilities strip club owners have to protect their guests, employees, and contractors. If you’d prefer to discuss your case directly with a qualified strip club shooting attorney, just reach out by phone or chat for a free consultation.
Georgia’s Strip Clubs Are Frequent Sites of Gun Violence
While strip club violence is an issue all over the country, Georgia in particular feels the effects of strip club shootings on a near-monthly basis, sometimes even more often.
Stereotypical images of strip club violence tend to involve men assaulting women, or women robbing men, but in reality, strip club altercations that escalate to gun violence often happen between people of the same gender, typically male patrons attacking each other or male security personnel.
In November of 2020, a man was shot in the chest and killed during a fight at Rumors in Atlanta. One of the three suspects wanted in connection with the shooting was later apprehended at a motel in Clayton County.
That July, another man was shot four times at the Peaches of Atlanta strip club, after what witnesses described as a verbal dispute with another customer. The suspect fled the scene.
In February of 2021, also in Atlanta, a man was shot multiple times while walking from Shayk’s to his car. He survived, but the two suspects, who were caught on camera earlier at the entrance of the club, could not be immediately identified.
Some strip club shootings appear to arise spontaneously out of personal conflicts, while others appear to be an extension of more organized crime. In April of 2021, a man was shot in front of the coincidentally named Peaches Gentleman’s Club in Valdosta, in an incident police believe to be gang-related. They have a specific suspect, but were not able to locate him in the immediate aftermath.
In late February, just four days after the Shayk’s shooting, three people were shot in front of the Blue Flame Lounge, again in Atlanta, in an apparent drive-by.
Women do periodically commit and fall victim to strip club shootings as well. In August of 2019, one woman reportedly shot and killed another in the parking lot of Magic City in Atlanta. Witnesses said they had been sitting in a car together and got into an argument.
Some incidents are also larger than one-on-one disputes, and end up injuring people who have no idea what is happening or why. Just after Christmas of 2020, a pair of brothers got into a shootout with security at the Commotions Club in Lagrange, after reportedly being asked to leave. At the same time, the wife of one of the brothers allegedly attacked the woman who managed the club, pulling a gun on her as well and opening fire. Altogether, the bullets ended up striking five people: both brothers, a security guard, a DJ, and another patron not involved in the fight. One of the brothers did not survive.
The common factor across all of these shootings is that, even though armed and belligerent patrons are a notable threat at strip clubs across Georgia, these clubs were not prepared to handle these situations quickly and thoroughly enough to protect their innocent guests and employees. For this reason, many of those who were injured or lost loved ones might have been able to sue over negligent strip club security.
Experts Disagree on What Inherent Crime Risks Strip Clubs May Carry
Strip clubs and crime are so closely associated in the public consciousness that proposed new clubs often face heavy pushback from local residents, who are convinced that the presence of stripping will inevitably lead to increased murders, assaults, robberies, and sex crimes, no matter how responsibly the club might be run.
While strip clubs obviously can be dangerous, as the above incidents illustrate, the actual connection between stripping and crime is much more complex and elusive than people imagine. One study of strip clubs in San Diego, California found that they had no effect one way or the other on local crime rates, and were less likely to require police attention than nightclubs in the same area. Based on a range of other studies, some academics believe there is no correlation between strip clubs and crime, while others believe that there is a correlation, but that the strip clubs may or may not be the cause of higher crime levels. Rather, because strip clubs are widely viewed as undesirable, they may be relegated to already high-crime neighborhoods.
In the early 2000s, the leader of a Montana-based organization that opposes strip clubs attempted to prevent one from being opened near Three Forks, based on the belief that such businesses might be a trigger for violence. The club opened, however, and local police reported that its crime rate was comparable to other businesses in the area that served alcohol. The few unusual incidents were not of the sexual nature that the critics predicted; in fact, they largely stemmed from conflicts between club patrons and picketers.
In short, it does seem possible for strip clubs to operate just as safely as other entertainment and food service businesses that do not involve stripping. However, this is all the more reason why strip club owners should be expected to hold their businesses to rigorous — but clearly attainable — safety standards. Anyone who wishes to run a strip club can and should familiarize themselves with the common dangers to patrons, both those unique to strip clubs and those common to other kinds of clubs, and take all reasonable steps to mitigate those dangers. It’s when owners fail to do this that tragedies happen.
The Biggest Crime Risk for Any Business Is a Complicit Owner
Though it’s a myth that all strip clubs are inherently criminal enterprises, strip club owners and managers certainly can be involved in crime, just as owners of hotels, salons, bars, and virtually any other business can be.
The strip club industry is actually not as appealing to criminals as most people imagine, simply because strip clubs are subject to such intensive licensing requirements and scrutiny. The nature of a strip club does offer unique opportunities facilitate drug and human trafficking activities under the guise of legitimate business, however, so some criminals are willing to risk opening clubs or collaborating with existing club owners.
Once a business’s owner or manager is involved in criminal activities in any way, the risk of violence on the premises skyrockets. In addition to whatever crime the business is actively harboring, the property becomes known as a place where management will not willingly involve the law in any way, so those who are inclined to behave violently feel safer doing so.
This phenomenon plays a major role, if not the major role, in determining what will become a high-crime area. Rather than being evenly distributed across a whole neighborhood, criminology studies have found that crime tends to cluster tightly around a few specific properties that welcome or encourage it, spilling out slightly into the surrounding area.
In strip club shootings where the strip club is one of these crime-welcoming properties, the owner would likely be liable for the resulting injuries and deaths.
All Businesses, Including Strip Clubs, Have a Responsibility to Keep Patrons and Employees Safe
Business owner liability for guest violence is a complex and contentious issue, but at its core, it comes down to the question of foreseeability.
Georgia property owners are required to exercise ordinary care to make sure their premises are safe for their guests. “Ordinary care” can mean very different things in different contexts. It depends on what the guests will foreseeably need to be kept safe from.
For example, at a café in a very low-crime area, ordinary care might just mean making sure the food is properly handled and the floors are free of tripping hazards. If someone walked into that café and started attacking people, the owner probably couldn’t be faulted for failing to exercise ordinary care. At a strip club in an area where strip club shootings are known to happen, on the other hand, providing security is a part of exercising ordinary care.
Regardless of whether the strip club in question is involved in any criminal activity or just unlucky when it comes to neighbors, shootings in this context are foreseeable, which makes them the responsibility of management. Specific businesses that have already been the site of criminal violence have an especially clear duty to prevent the same kind of incident from happening there again.
There Are Ways Strip Club Owners Can Protect Guests
Basic security measures strip clubs should take to prevent violence include:
- Employing security staff with adequate training and background checks.
- Making sure parking areas and outdoor walkways are well-lit.
- Cutting off alcohol service to guests who become belligerent (Georgia’s court of appeals has found businesses liable for the violence of guests who were served alcohol past this point).
For strip clubs at particular risk of gun violence, management can also:
- Increase security staff.
- Assign more security to parking areas, where shootings are more likely to occur.
- Equip entrances with metal detectors.
- Ban guests from bringing weapons onto the premises (this is legal with required signage).
If a strip club owner knows or should know that gun violence is a likely danger to guests, but chooses not to take adequate preventative steps, that owner is liable for the consequences of their negligent strip club security.
The Stoddard Firm Has the Experience to Help Strip Club Shooting Victims
Filing a negligent security lawsuit against a strip club can be intimidating. If you’ve been in contact with the club’s management, you may have been told that the shooting was your own fault, or your loved one’s, or that there is nothing the club could have done to prevent it.
Talking with a strip club negligent security attorney can help you understand your rights, and working with one ensures that your interests are represented during the investigation process and beyond.
The Stoddard Firm has experience in negligent security cases, as well as general premises liability, personal injury, and wrongful death. We’re familiar with strip club security procedures and common shortcomings. We can also help break through the blame and stigma surrounding strip clubs, reminding the jury that people have the same legal right to safety at a strip club as at any other business. Our goal is to get you the compensation you deserve, while fighting for better standards of security in the future.
To speak with a strip club shooting attorney in Atlanta today, just give us a call at 678-RESULT or reach out through our online chat function for a free consultation.