My friend called me on a Saturday to ask for advice. She was at the gym and the person sitting next to her felt she was too close and threw a weight at her. He had threatened her in the past. She had decided to go to the police after talking to the gym with no results except for, ‘You need to work this out amongst yourself.’ Wrong answer.

She had a bruise, a minor injury and although there was a video recording, the police did not want to get involved.

My thought went to how poorly the gym handled the situation. It did rise to negligence- the gym owes a duty to its members to provide a safe work out environment, and that duty was breached. However, the gym was as, Jessica Nagle of Nagle Law called it, ‘ethically challenged.’

Conflict is a growth industry. Because of that business need to have systems in place on how to deal conflict whether that is among employees, vendors or customers.

My suggestion is to have a written policy about how you will deal with conflict. Amongst employees, for example, this may be an anonymous hotline to report issues or for customers there may be a formal complaint process.

These small ideas would create an ethical business and also one less likely to have negligence claims.


I teach undergraduate students at a local university.  We just finished covering torts and negligence, which is always a fun subject as the students suddenly see the potential for lawsuits everywhere.  In fact, one assignment was to look for possible claims around campus.  I didn’t realize the campus was a death trap!

Torts are a civil wrong that leads to harm which results in legal liability.  Some examples of torts are defamation, copyright infringement and false imprisonment.  Negligence is within the study of torts and is based on the belief that there is a duty of care owed.  If there is a breach in that duty that caused injury, then people sue for negligence.  For example, supermarkets need to keep their floors clean, and when there is an issue need to mark it accordingly, if not then someone could slip and fall.

Negligence and tort claims can happen to anyone in a business. You need to be aware of the issues and then go about protecting you and your business with a combination of contracts, business entities and insurance.