Legal Responsibility For Another Person’s Violent Behavior

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - If you provoke a person whom you know has a history of violence, can you be held responsible if he, unsurprisingly, becomes violent?

Two women in Alaska were at a party, dancing suggestively. The dancing was clearly angering the husband of one of the women, an abusive man known for violent outbursts. The women continued to irritate him until he pulled out a gun, shot both women and then shot himself.

The father of the children of one of the women sued the estate of the OTHER WOMAN, claiming her behavior foreseeably provoked the man. The Alaska Supreme Court rejected the claim, saying that only the person who commits the violence is responsible for the violence; no one should have to alter her behavior to accommodate someone else’s violent tendencies.

It’s an excellent legal decision from a court, but would be very bad advice from a friend, who should tell you: if you fear that someone is violent or abusive, don’t provoke. Remove. Get yourself out of the situation because whether or not you are legally responsible for someone else’s violence – and you aren’t – you are ultimately the only one who can be responsible for your own safety.

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