The bad year for the 49ers continues.
Last week, a pair of season-ticket holders sued the 49ers for injuries inflicted in a 2014 bathroom assault by a pair of intoxicated brothers. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Kiran and Amish Patel allege that the 49ers and the Santa Clara stadium authority created an “unreasonable risk of injury” by failing to address the potential for violence by drunken fans at Levi’s Stadium.
One of the two cousins suffered injuries that put him in critical condition after skull surgery.
Although the incident resulted from criminal misconduct, the 49ers could be liable if they failed to take reasonable steps to protect against assaults occurring on their property. And that will be the primary legal hurdle that the Patels will be required to overcome: Whether the 49ers had a legal duty to protect them against intentional acts of violence committed by others on team-owned property.
The broader business question for the 49ers becomes how aggressively they choose to defend against a lawsuit filed by season-ticket holders. With layers of insurance potentially available for such matters, it would make sense for the 49ers to insist that an appropriate settlement be reached.
It’s possible those efforts were undertaken before the filing of litigation. As the litigation unfolds, those efforts could continue. At some point, however, the 49ers will have to ask themselves whether they want to file in open court paperwork arguing that they owe no duty to protect customers against the things other customers may do after consuming the alcohol sold by the 49ers at a significant markup.