Duty to Protect Against Criminal Acts of a Third Party In South Carolina

An action for negligence requires the plaintiff to allege facts sufficient to demonstrate: (1) a duty of care owed by the defendant; (2) a breach of that duty by a negligent act or omission; (3) damage proximately caused by the breach. Kleckley v. Northwestern Nat. Cas. Co., 338 S.C. 131, 526 S.E.2d 218 (2000). Generally, there is no duty to protect against the criminal acts of a third party unless the owner of the premises knew or had reason to know of the criminal attack. Bullard v. Ehrhardt, 283 S.C. 557, 324 S.E.2d 61 (1984). In Bullard, the court found that the tavern owner could not have foreseen the criminal actions of a patron who spontaneously threw a beer bottle at another patron. Id.