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Black Friday Liabilty for Property Owners, Not Just Retailers

This week, Black Friday is coming up and holiday shoppers couldn't be more excited.

While many states have begun opening doors on Thursday, Massachusetts law prohibits employees from working on Thanksgiving. So it's Black Friday and not "Black Thursday/Friday" in Massachusetts.

Several years back, however, it was a dark Friday indeed for a Walmart in New York, when an employee was killed during Black Friday chaos. The death of a Walmart worker, Jdimytai Damour serves to remind retailers and shoppers alike that Black Friday can be dangerous.

The case eventually settled and since then, Walmart has put extra effort in managing crowd control.

Black Friday can be fun and eventful, but retailers must take great caution to prevent any injuries from happening at their stores. It's a scary thought, not only for retailers but also for those who own the strip malls and facilities where shoppers will be congregating.

For one, the owner of a property is liable to those who are "invited" onto the premises. And let's be real for a minute -- those flyers with the attractive deals and rock bottom prices are certainly "invitations." Invitations to disaster, if you think about it.

They'll invite large swarms of eager shoppers. This involves caution not only from the property owner but also from the store leasing the property. Friday is looking warm and sunny in Boston, so there's no need for salting up the sidewalks, walkways and parking lots. That's good news for preventing slip-and-fall lawsuits.

But slip and fall lawsuits aren't the only form of premises liability. If people are invited onto the property, the property owner has to take ordinary care in making sure that the property is safe. If you own a mall or facility that you rent out to stores, it may be a good idea to meet with the tenants and have a look at the property, to make sure there are no loose ends for you to take care of.

It might also be a good time to talk to them about their Black Friday plans, since you could be on the hook for them.

Be careful on Black Friday and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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