Far from the Madding Crowd: A Statutory Solution to Crowd Crush



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Crowd-related injuries and deaths occur with surprising frequency in the United States. In recent years, crowd members in the United States have sustained significant injuries and even fatalities at concerts, sporting events, “doorbuster” sales, nightclubs, and large festivals. While some of these incidents have prompted victims to file negligence suits against event organizers and venue owners, common law has proven to be ineffective at addressing “crowd crush.” Indeed, courts have repeatedly held for defendants in these cases, making a series of scientific and legal errors in the process, therefore providing little incentive for organizers and owners to improve their crowd management practices. Additionally, ad hoc crowd management efforts on the part of a few concerned promoters and venues have done little to reduce the risk of crowd-related injuries in cities and states as a whole. In this paper, I argue that state and local adoption of crowd management statutes is the only remaining solution that can effectively reduce the number of crowd crush injuries and fatalities in the United States each year. Because there are currently no such laws in this country, I propose a model statute that draws upon fundamental principles of crowd science in requiring event organizers and venue owners to take a series of relatively simple steps both in advance and during large gatherings that will drastically reduce the likelihood of crowd crush.



crowd control, crowd crush, crowd management, crowd science, torts, negligence, model statute, festival seating, Hillsborough


68 Hastings L.J. 159 (2016)