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Student crushed to death in overcrowded nightclub

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We all go to bars, pubs and nightclubs to have a good time and let go of our inhibitions. We fully expect them to be busy and the atmosphere to be somewhat boisterous but, whilst we are busy having a good time, do we ever stop to think about the safety of our surroundings?

On 18th October 2011, a 22 year old student was killed following a ‘stampede’ at Lava and Ignite Nightclub in Northampton. The ‘Wickedest Wickedest’ anniversary event had allegedly sold more than 2,000 tickets despite the venue’s maximum capacity of 1,300. Witnesses reported that the club was extremely overcrowded to the extent that they felt uncomfortable and suffocated.

In the early hours of 19th October 2011, it is alleged that the DJ announced that buses had arrived to collect the many students attending the event. The message to club goers was that the buses would leave without them if they didn’t make their way to the entrance immediately. As a result, hundreds of revellers began pushing their way towards the entrance. It is claimed that a fire alarm was then sounded causing further panic amongst the crowd. The situation then escalated to the point where the club lost control of the premises and its capacity.

As a result of this entirely preventable incident, Nabila Nanfuka, a student at Northampton University, died from ‘traumatic crush asphyxiation’ and two other partygoers were left in a critical condition in intensive care.

The owners of bars and nightclubs are under a duty to customers to ensure that their premises are kept reasonably safe and free of hazards. This would include ensuring that customer capacity is not exceeded, as this undoubtedly puts customers at an obvious and foreseeable risk of injury.

Club-goers are often reluctant to pursue claims against bars and nightclubs following accidents as it is often the case that alcohol has been consumed by the injured party. However, accidents which occur in bars and clubs are often unrelated to the consumption of alcohol, as in this case. Even if alcohol consumption has contributed to the accident, the majority of the blame may still lie with the owner of the premises. Owners of licensed premises should be prepared for customers to be under the influence of alcohol and, when assessing risks of accidents occurring, should bear in mind that their customers may be vulnerable to injury due to their intoxicated state. The fact remains that, if a person is injured as a result of a nightclub’s failure to keep their premises safe, they are entitled to be compensated for such an injury.

If you have suffered an injury which you believe is a result of negligence, we at Stephensons have a specialist team who are willing and able to help. Call us today on 01616 966 229 to discuss the merits of your case.

By personal injury solicitor, Danielle O’Neill