School Walkouts and Balcony Collapses – WTVM Legal Break

Injury & Accident Attorney Serving Nearby Areas of Columbus & Fort Benning, Georgia and Phenix City, Alabama

Local attorney, Gary Bruce, answers viewer questions and discusses legal implications of current events on this segment of Legal Break with WTVM. One viewer asks if they can be punished for participating in the National Walkout Day protest against gun violence. Gary states that while there are likely no long term effects of participating in the protest, your school can punish you for an unexcused absence or for being late to class for the duration of the protest.

Gary Bruce also discusses an aspect of premises liability after the St. Patrick’s Day balcony collapse in Savannah, Georgia. Many times a business is owned by one person and run by someone else. If the operator of an establishment knew or should have known of the danger, they have a responsibility to warn patrons. However, if the business has complained to the property owner, they may have an action for reimbursement against the landlord or owner.

We have been proudly serving Columbus, Ft Moore (formerly Ft Benning), LaGrange, Salem, Phenix City, Opelika, Eufaula, and Auburn for 25 years. If you have questions about injuries sustained on another person’s property, please call The Law Offices of Gary Bruce at 706-596-1446 or email to set up a free, confidential consultation.


Narrator: This is Legal Break on WTVM with attorney, Gary Bruce, answering your questions about the law.

Maureen: Hello there and welcome to Legal Break. Gary, thank you so much for joining us again, as always.

Gary: Let’s get right at it – we’ve got some questions.

Maureen: Let’s get right to it, we do. We’ve got a Facebook question – let’s pull this right up so we can read it. Can my school punish me for taking part in the National School Walkout Day protesting high-powered firearms?

Gary: Good question and I know it’s on a lot of kids minds, this weekend in particular – I think, isn’t it coming up shortly? So anyway, the answer is this – yes, they can. If you have an unexcused absence or you have broken some school rule then I think they can enforce some kind of punishment. The bigger question, I guess, that most kids are asking themselves, and parents, is if it’s going to have a lasting impact on me? Is it going on my permanent record, so to speak? With my nieces and nephews and people I know that are involved in this process with the college surge, I think most colleges have taken the position, “No, we’re not going to let this be a black mark against your record.” It’s not going to be used against you to keep you from getting into school. In fact, my experience thirty-five years ago was sometimes they appreciated that kind of thing. You know, a little independent thought, taking a stand, believing in something…so, yeah you’re probably going to get punished at some level, but if it’s important to you then those are the decisions you need to make within your family.

Maureen: Yeah, absolutely. And we have a question that’s kind of based on something that’s happened recently. There was a balcony collapse in Savannah recently over St. Patrick’s Day – if someone is injured in a structural failure at a business and the business does not own the building, who is responsible – the business owner or the owner of the building?

Gary: Well, this comes up a good bit because a lot of times even in a business, if it’s kind of an associated ownership, a lot of times the building is owned by one part of a company and then it’s run by another – there’s some reasons people do this I guess. The quick answer is this – if they know about it or if they should’ve known about it, then the operator of the business has responsibility. If I knew there was a spill on my floor and don’t warn you about it, it doesn’t matter if it’s the fault of the owner of the building or not, I have a duty to you to warn you about it. So, there’s that responsibility first. Then there’s the responsibility if I’ve complained as a business owner to my landlord, “Look, this roof leaks all the time,” well then I may have an action against the landlord for reimbursement or contribution. But ultimately, if I know about it or should know about it with some reasonable care and inspection and I don’t warn about it, then as a business owner I would be responsible for injuries that arise as a result of that danger.

Maureen: Gotcha!

Gary: It could go both ways and then there’s intertwining relationships and liabilities.

Maureen: Absolutely. Great question though! Thank you, keep them coming. We look forward to seeing you on the very next Legal Break.