Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Honorable Mary Mulbern, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Quinn
In the instant case, the trial court granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of defendants, Aragon Ballroom (Aragon) and Luna Security Services (Luna Security), finding that defendants owed plaintiff, Ali Sameer, no duty of care with regard to a third party's unforeseeable criminal attack. Plaintiff now appeals.
On appeal, plaintiff argues that: (1) the trial court erred in finding that the criminal attack on plaintiff was unforeseeable; (2) the trial court erred in granting summary judgment where the facts were sufficient to find that Aragon owed plaintiff a duty to protect him from a third party's criminal act under the Restatement (Second) of Torts section 344 (1965); (3) the trial court erred in granting summary judgment where, by hiring Luna Security to provide security services for the concert, Aragon owed plaintiff a duty to protect him from injury; (4) the trial court erred in granting summary judgment as the evidence raised an issue of material fact as to whether Luna Security's failure to pat down patrons as they entered the concert created a condition conducive to a foreseeable intervening criminal act; and (5) the trial court, as a matter of public policy, should have imposed a burden on the defendants to protect the plaintiff from a third party's criminal attack. Based on the following reasons, we affirm the trial court's summary judgment order.
On November 29, 1997, there was a concert/dance held in the Aragon Ballroom to celebrate Pakistan's fiftieth year of independence. Shortly after the concert, one concert goer, Waseem Khalil (Khalil), was stabbed on the sidewalk in front of the Aragon. A second concert goer, Ali Sameer (plaintiff), was stabbed in the Aragon's vestibule.
A brief description of the Aragon Ballroom's configuration would help to understand the chain of events that led to the stabbing. One has to enter the Aragon through one of three sets of glass doors. Once inside the glass doors, there is a vestibule where the ticket counter is located. Beyond the ticket counter, there is a set of wooden doors with glass panes on the top. Beyond the wooden doors is a lobby. At the end of the lobby are two stairways that lead up to the ballroom where the concert was held.
At 10 p.m. that evening, plaintiff and his friends went to the concert. They were not searched or patted down at the Aragon's entrance. The crowd in the concert included all age groups and families. The concert's atmosphere was calm and the crowd well-behaved.
Khalil was at the concert with four friends (Nasir and Azfar Saeed, Shahbaz Irshas and Khalid Ghaffer). Khalil testified in a deposition that as they entered the concert they were not patted down by security personnel. Khalil further testified that as the last song was being played, a girl, speaking Urdu (Pakistani language), offered to give Khalil her telephone number. At this time, the man who was dancing with the girl, Choudhorn, came up and said he would give her telephone number to Khalil, and he punched Khalil in the face. Choudhorn did not shout or yell at Khalil before punching him. After being punched, Khalil yelled for help in English, while three or four men dragged him across the lobby, through the foyer and out onto the sidewalk in front of the Aragon.
Outside the Aragon, several men started beating Khalil. During the beating, as Khalil tried to get up from the ground, one of the assailants, Butt, stabbed Khalil. The knife had a six to seven-inch-long blade. Khalil estimated that he was outside the Aragon for about a minute when he was stabbed. Khalil testified that after the stabbing, Butt left the scene in a white Humvee that was double-parked in front of the Aragon. Khalil recognized Butt as a fellow cab driver whom he had seen before. Khalil had seen Butt dancing in the ballroom earlier that night.
Plaintiff left as the last song of the concert was being played. He did not notice any commotion or hear any argument. As he walked down from the main ballroom into the lobby, plaintiff saw that three security guards were stationed on each stairway. The security guards were wearing orange vests and asking people to leave.
As plaintiff came to the glass door, he saw a commotion outside on the sidewalk. Plaintiff testified he did not see any security guards in the vestibule. As he was walking out of the glass door, he was hit very hard from behind. Defendant conceded, for purposes of the motion for summary judgment and for this appeal, that plaintiff was stabbed while he was inside the foyer. After being hit, plaintiff then turned around and saw Butt standing behind him with a knife in his hand. Plaintiff said the knife had a six to seven-inch-long blade. Seeing the knife, plaintiff ran and Butt gave chase. As plaintiff was running, he looked back and saw Butt was chasing him, swinging the knife and trying to stab him. Plaintiff escaped by outrunning Butt. Plaintiff also saw Butt leave in a white Humvee that was parked in front of the Aragon. Plaintiff was later taken to the hospital by his friends. As a result of the stabbing, plaintiff was hospitalized for 23 days. He had two surgeries and an infection developed thereafter.
Plaintiff testified that he did not know Butt, nor did he know why Butt stabbed him. In a deposition, plaintiff testified that the concert crowd was warm and amicable. He was not involved in any confrontation with anybody during the concert. Plaintiff testified that the whole incident took place in about two minutes. He had no warning throughout the night that this would happen to him at the end of the concert.
Azfar Saeed (Azfar) went to the concert with Khalil. Azfar testified in a deposition that toward the end of the concert, he saw that Khalil and Shabaz Irshad were talking to somebody. Azfar then saw someone grab Khalil by the collar and take Khalil outside of the Aragon, dragging him for 10 to 20 feet. Once outside, several men started beating Khalil. Azfar did not see Khalil resist. However, Azfar was not sure how many men were dragging Khalil out of the foyer because the lobby was crowded with people leaving the concert. He tried to scream to get help for Khalil. Azfar did not see any security personnel in the vestibule. In a deposition, Khalil's friend Shahbaz Irshad (Irshad) corroborated that a girl offered to give her telephone number to Khalil. Choudhorn then punched Khalil in the face. Irshad saw one man grab Khalil by the collar and walk Khalil out of the Aragon. Khalil appeared to be both going out willingly and also being pushed along. Irshad did not seek help because he did not believe there would be any trouble.
As Irshad got out on the sidewalk, a fight broke out. Khalil and Irshad were attacked by several men. Irshad ran away and hid behind some cars. Irshad later came back and saw those same men beating Khalil, and then someone stabbed Khalil in the chest.
Michael Tannehill (Tannehill), an off-duty police officer, worked as a part-time security officer for Luna Security that night to provide security services in the Aragon. Tannehill testified that if a fight broke out, the security officers were to step in and resolve the conflict. Tannehill also testified that the security people were all in the main lobby area because their security duties did not include the foyer. Tannehill testified that, as a police officer, he would take action if fighting took place in the vestibule or outside the Aragon.
At the end of the concert, Tannehill was upstairs at the concession stand. He did not go downstairs until the building was clear. Tannehill testified that when he came back from his lunch break, he saw a white Humvee double-parked in front of the Aragon. Tannehill said he believed that two Middle Eastern men in the white Humvee were involved in the stabbing incidents in front of the Aragon.
Edward Soto, the president of Luna Security, testified in a deposition that the Aragon routinely contracted with Luna Security to provide security services for the ballroom's events. On the evening in question, Luna Security stationed ushers by the stairs and fire exits and security personnel were placed inside the main hall. Luna Security also placed two uniformed female security personnel inside the second set of doors. Neither woman reported any trouble at the concert. Soto also testified that Luna was not responsible for security duties in the vestibule.
Albert Miranda (Miranda), general manager of the Aragon, testified in a deposition that the Aragon would contract with Luna to provide security services for events. Luna Security would assign positions for its security personnel. However, there was no written security plan for the night of the event. Miranda also testified that a concert/dance event would require a pat-down search as concert goers entered the event. Any weapon found in the pat-down would be confiscated.
In November 1999, Khalil filed suit against Tahir Butt, Mohammed Choudhry, Aragon, Luna Security and Mohammed Irdis, d/b/a Pak Sarzameen Talk Show, and Indo-Pak Video, Inc., d/b/a Video Palace, as the co-sponsors of the concert.
Separately, in December 1999, plaintiff also filed suit against Tahir Butt, Aragon, Luna Security, Mohammed Irdis, d/b/a Pak Sarzameen Talk Show, and Mohammed I. Choudhry, individually, and as an agent of Indo-Pak, Inc.(the concert promoter).
Khalil's and plaintiff's suits were subsequently merged. On July 11, 2001, Indo-Pak and Irdis each filed a motion for summary judgment, both motions were granted. No appeal was taken therefrom. On July 24, 2001, the trial court granted a motion for summary judgment as to both Aragon and Luna Security. The trial court found the assault on plaintiff was not reasonably foreseeable; thus, neither defendant owed a duty to plaintiff. Plaintiff then voluntarily ...