Appeals Court Reverses Jury Verdict Against Bar Over Thrown Beer Bottle

Attorney John P. Connell and the Law Offices of John P. Connell, P.C. this week prevailed in the Massachusetts Appeals Court when that Court reversed a jury’s award of damages for a patron who was struck in the forehead by a beer bottle thrown by another patron at the now closed “Bar Room” formerly located on Broad Street in Boston. The Appeals Court’s full decision in Rivera vs. Broad Street Enterprises, Inc. can be reviewed in full here.

In summary, the plaintiff was sitting upstairs at the Bar Room in front of a dance floor and listening to a Disk Jockey when an “altercation” broke out on the dance floor between other patrons. Security personnel immediately attended to the “altercation” but according to the plaintiff, they could not control the situation for about five minutes. The plaintiff and his friends were not involved in the “altercation” and simply watched the scene unfold from their booth. Then, suddenly, and without warning, someone in the Bar Room threw a beer bottle that hit the plaintiff in the forehead which caused him to bleed profusely.

While the jury rendered a verdict at trial in favor of the plaintiff and against the Bar Room, the Appeals Court reversed the verdict holding that “the plaintiff has not demonstrated that the Bar Room failed to take reasonable steps to prevent harm stemming from the confrontation that occurred. The plaintiff did not know how many security personnel were on the second floor during the confrontation, and there was no evidence presented as to how many security personnel were working on the premises that evening, let alone that the number was unreasonably low.” The Appeals Court further held that the mere service of beer in glass bottles did not show negligence and that although there was no evidence presented that the police were called to quell the disturbance, there was also no evidence presented that had the police been called they would have arrived in time to prevent the plaintiff’s injuries.

This decision should be an important reminder to licensed establishments that they are not “always” at fault when a patron is injured on their premises, and so long as they act reasonably under the circumstances they can avoid liability for such injuries.

© Law Offices of John P. Connell, Esq., 2017

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