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Security staff may have had duty to help injured patron, judge says

A judge has trimmed some of the claims from a lawsuit arising from the 2009 death of concert-goer Morgan Harrington, but he allowed the suit to go forward on allegations that a concert security firm may have had a duty to provide aid and assistance to Harrington.

In the lawsuit, Harrington’s family contends she was incapacitated with an obvious cut to her chin when she emerged and then tried to re-enter the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville during a Metallica concert.

Security staffers barred Harrington from returning to the concert hall, the suit alleges, and she was later found dead at a distant location, killed by an unknown assailant.

The $3.9 million lawsuit claims Regional Marketing Concepts Inc., the security firm, had both a duty to warn or protect Harrington from harm by others and a duty to see that she received aid for her apparent injury.

Retired Charlottesville Circuit Judge Jay T. Swett rejected the first duty as well as a breach of contract claim. However, Swett said the facts alleged in the suit could give rise to a duty to help the injured victim.

Swett’s ruling came in a July 8 opinion made available this week.

Harrington was a 20-year-old student at Virginia Tech when she attended the concert with friends. Police have not identified any suspects in her murder.

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