Retail and Hospitality
Clawson and Staubes’ work in retail and hospitality litigation encompasses a wide variety of cases, including, but not limited to, premises liability, slip and falls, assaults, dram shop and liquor liability, adulterated food liability, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. Our attorneys represent both plaintiffs and defendants in these matters. Whether you have been injured at a retail or hospitality establishment or you are a store, hotel, restaurant, bar, or other establishment in need of defense counsel, Clawson and Staubes has the skills and experience necessary to assist with bringing your claim to a favorable result. Our attorneys also assist retail and entertainment clients in obtaining liquor licenses and/or permits and defending against fines, suspensions, and revocations.
Under South Carolina law, a retailer may be found liable for injuries sustained on the property where the injured customer can show (1) the injury was caused by a specific act by the retailer that created the danger or (2) the retailer knew or should have known of a “less than obvious” danger and failed to remedy it. Determining liability in such cases can be complicated, and our attorneys have achieved favorable results in litigating premises liability claims, including those involving allegations of dangerous and defective conditions, open excavations, slip and fall, uneven payment, and building code violations.
Negligent Hiring, Training, & Supervision:
Our lawyers have represented bar and nightclub owners, as well as individuals, in cases arising from incidents involving serious bodily injury and death occurring on bar or nightclub premises. It is not uncommon in the bar and nightclub environment for a patron or even a bar or nightclub employee to cause serious bodily injury or death to a fellow patron. Often times, there may be a cause of action against the establishment where the injury occurred. In other words, if someone is assaulted or is otherwise injured on the premises of a bar or nightclub by another patron of the establishment, it is possible that the bar or nightclub may have liability for the injury.
South Carolina common law provides causes of action against bars and nightclubs for negligent hiring and retention, as well as negligent training and supervision of employees. As a result, a bar or nightclub may be held liable for the acts of its employees in causing an injury to a patron or in unreasonably failing to prevent an injury to a patron.
A bar or nightclub can be held liable for negligent hiring and employment when it fails select an employee fit or competent to perform the services of employment. Where the bar or nightclub negligently hires and employs an incompetent servant who it knew or should have known was incompetent or unfit, it created an unreasonable risk of harm to patrons and can be held liable. Similarly, where a bar or nightclub knew or should have known its employee had previously behaved in a dangerous or otherwise incompetent or unfit manner and failed to adequately supervise the employee, it can be held liable for injuries or death resulting from the acts or omissions of said employees.
Retail and hospitality establishments can be held liable for negligent security. Negligent security claims arise from a wide range of scenarios, including, but not limited to, failure to provide security guards, failure to provide adequate or competent security guards, inadequate lighting, and the like. As is the case with other aspects of hospitality industry law, negligent security cases present unique challenges. They are often fact intensive and require attorneys experienced in navigating the hospitality industry. Negligent security cases often turn on the issue of liability, making the timely collection and analysis of police reports, receipts, video, social media, and eye witness statements crucial.
Our attorneys represent both plaintiffs and defendants in negligent security matters. Whether you or a loved one were injured in a bar or nightclub or you are a bar or nightclub owner that is accused of negligent security, we are equipped to provide you with competent counsel and assist you in navigating this often complex area of law.
In South Carolina, it is permissible for retailers to infer that any person willfully concealing unpurchased goods or merchandise has concealed the goods or merchandise with the intention of converting it to his own use without paying the purchase price. In other words, retailers are given some leeway regarding suspected shoplifting. However, when a retail store decides to apprehend and arrest those who attempt to steal their merchandise, it must detain the shoplifter in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable length of time in order to avoid a claim of false arrest or false imprisonment. We assist clients by providing legal advice on how to properly hire, train, and supervise loss prevention employees who make shoplifter apprehensions and arrests. We also assist clients in defending against claims of false arrest or false imprisonment by mitigating liability or avoiding liability altogether.
Alcohol Beverage Licensing (“ABL”):
The alcohol beverage industry in South Carolina is heavily regulated through a three-tiered distribution and licensing structure that strictly separates manufacturing, wholesaling, and retailing. Under this three-tier system, licenses and/or permits fall into one of the following categories:
- Retail licenses that authorize the sale of alcoholic beverages to the public;
- Wholesale licenses that authorize the purchase of alcoholic beverages from producers for resale to retailers;
- Manufacturing and importing licenses that authorize the production or importation of alcoholic beverages into the state.
Our ABL attorneys have a wealth of experience in assisting restaurants, hotels, retail, and entertainment clients navigate the complex application process to obtain the necessary permit and/or license from the SC Department of Revenue. We also assist clients whose applications have been denied as a result of:
- The proposed location’s proximity to a church, school, or playground;
- The filing of a public protest;
- An allegation of bad moral character;
- An allegation of saturation or unsuitability of the proposed location.
In addition, our ABL attorneys have achieved excellent results for clients facing discipline by the SC Department of Revenue. Fines, suspensions, and revocations typically arise from allegations that a licensee or permitee has engaged in the following:
- Selling liquor during restricted hours;
- Selling liquor to underage individuals;
- Violating conditions placed on a license;
- Writing a bad check to the SC Department of Revenue;
- Sale of liquor by a private club to a non-member or someone who is not a bona fide guest of a member;
- Selling liquor on Sunday without a Sunday liquor license.
We have successfully handled appeals of liquor license and beer & wine permit assessments and revocations by the SC Department of Revenue and have the experience to navigate the resulting administrative proceedings.