- July 13, 2020
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Premises Liability
A January wedding at Buckhead’s St. Regis Resort was interrupted when a tent collapsed under heavy winds, sending three guests to the hospital and causing superficial injuries to at least five more.
The tent was being used to shelter the patio where the ceremony was taking place. Right after the bride walked down the aisle, the tent gave out under a gust of wind she said felt like a small tornado lifting it off the ground.
A tent blowing over might sound like a minor accident, but the supports for patio tents are necessarily heavy-duty and often made of steel, more than substantial enough to cause death at the right velocity. Luckily, none of the guests sustained life-threatening injuries, and those who were hospitalized are expected to recover.
This Tent Was Probably Not Designed for Use Under These Conditions
Although there was no actual tornado recorded in Buckhead that day, the area was under a weather advisory, including a Tornado Watch, as a row of severe thunderstorms swept across Georgia causing widespread power outages and property damage. Employees of businesses across the street from the St. Regis described the weather that day as “hurricane-like,” and one woman expressed confusion as to why anyone would ignore the warnings and go through with an outdoor event.
Of course, weddings are typically booked months in advance, especially those held at upscale resorts like the St. Regis. A lot of work and planning goes into gathering family and coordinating such an event, and a postponement on the couple’s part could have meant excluding loved ones and wasting thousands of dollars. It’s understandable that they would feel they had few options but to trust the venue’s decision to tent the outdoor space for the ceremony.
The St. Regis, on the other hand, should have known the potential dangers on its own property and the options available to mitigate them. Instead of putting up a tent designed to protect from sun an light showers, it could have relocated the ceremony to one of its advertised indoor spaces. Severe inclement weather is a predictable complication for outdoor events, and wedding venues need to have contingency plans in place to meet their commitments to clients without putting them in danger.
The Resort and the Installers of the Tent Were Responsible for Guest Safety
Like any business, the St. Regis had a legal duty to provide a safe environment for its guests. A patio tent during a Tornado Watch is clearly not a safe environment. However, other parties may also be at fault for the guests’ injuries. If the tent was poorly made and buckled under less force than it was rated for, that’s the manufacturer putting those guests at risk. If a third-party contractor installed the tent and led the staff at the St. Regis to believe it could withstand any storm, that contractor also shares in this negligence.
If you’ve been injured due to unsafe venues and event planning, give The Stoddard Firm a call to discuss how we can help.