We've all heard the stories. Riders getting sued for tossing coconuts. Fellow parade-goers suing one another over beads, and Carnival krewes getting sued by their members after falling on floats.
For many, Mardi Gras seems to be a time of revelry and reckless abandonment, but for companies and individuals hosting parade-watching parties, it can be a time fraught with some legal risks.
With the Carnival season shifting into high gear, so too is the onslaught of office parties and balcony bashes – and the potential for liability lawsuits for those who are not adequately prepared.
Here are a few tips from attorney Ed Harold, partner at Fisher & Phillips in New Orleans, to help ensure that this year's revelry doesn't turn into regret.
Business Owners Beware When Hosting Mardi Gras Parade Watching Parties
Ed Harold of Fisher & Phillips LLP
What are some safety precautions business owners should take when hosting parade watching parties?
o Ask employees to submit the name and number of guests they will bring along. Have a sign in/sign out sheet so you know who came and left when.
o Hire someone to monitor for hazards (spilled liquids, rain or mud, beads lying on the floor, etc.) and pick up the office during the party.
o Post height requirements for any balcony areas.
o On big parade nights consider hiring a security guard to keep out wandering revelers and opportunistic criminals
Are there added dangers when setting up a bar?
o Yes. It's best to not set up bar but if you must offer plenty of other beverage options besides alcohol.
o If you are serving liquor you need to serve filling snacks as well.
o Hire a professional bartender who is accountable for portions.
o Do not allow supervisors or employees to pour or serve drinks.
o Post a taxi number by the door for anyone who might overindulge and encourage people to use it.
o Business owners need to establish a social media policy before the party and inform everyone who will attend. The last thing you want is a suggestive image of an employee or reveler on the street with your office in the background.
o Inform employees to not leave their valuables out in the open just because they are in their place of work. Purses and other valuables should be locked up out of public view.
Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch is a non-partisan, non-profit citizens' watchdog group dedicated to raising awareness about the negative impact of lawsuit abuse and its costs to Louisiana workers, consumers, taxpayers and small businesses. Learn more at www.llaw.org.