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U.S.D.C. - District of Massachusetts

In this negligence matter, the plaintiff alleged that the various defendants were negligent in causing the injuries that he suffered as a result of a fight outside of the defendant tavern after words were exchanged between the plaintiff and his assailants inside the tavern. The plaintiff sustained a severe traumatic brain injury as a result of the altercation. The defendants denied liability. The tavern and management company maintained that they were not responsible for a fight that occurred outside of the bar and took all reasonable steps during the argument to ensure the safety of the patrons. The defendant assailants maintained that the plaintiff instigated the fight and any injury sustained was caused in self-defense.

The male plaintiff and some friends were patrons at the defendant bar which is managed by the defendant management company. They took standing and seating area by one end of the bar. One of the defendant assailants arrived, obviously intoxicated, and went to sit in a seat that had been occupied by the plaintiff’s group. An argument ensued when the plaintiff and his friends asked the man to move as the seat was occupied. The bartender asked the man to move and he was relocated to the opposite side of the bar. Another argument occurred later in the evening between the same defendant and his friends, the co-defendants.

The plaintiff contended that the tavern and its employees failed to take adequate steps and follow protocol to avoid any further confrontation or arguments between the plaintiff’s group and the newly arrived defendant assailants. The plaintiff further contended that despite being visibly intoxicated, the defendant assailant was served additional alcohol by the defendant’s bar staff in violation of the Dram Shop law. When the plaintiff and his group left the bar, the defendant assailants left behind them. A short distance from the bar, the plaintiff was assaulted by the one defendant who hit the plaintiff, rendering him unconscious and causing the plaintiff to strike his head on the cement.

The plaintiff sustained a head injury and was later diagnosed with a severe traumatic brain injury. He was diagnosed with bilateral temporal bone fractures with circumferential extension to the occipital bone. The plaintiff was diagnosed with a left subarachnoid blood and a left hematoma. He required a hemicraniectomy and ICP bolt insertion. He was unconscious from June 20, ________, until September 16, ________. Thereafter, he had to recover and relearn many of the tasks of normal living. The plaintiff is unable to return to his former occupation and has incurred medical specials including lost earnings and future medical care in excess of $________.

The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant tavern and its owner/manager alleging negligence in its violation of Dram Shop law by serving a visibly intoxicated individual; in failing to follow appropriate protocol and laws regarding argumentative and difficult patrons and permitting the defendant and his friends to stay in the bar despite their menacing conduct; in failing to properly supervise and train its employees to avert potential conflicts such as the one that occurred; and in negligent security and supervision. The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant assailants for assault.

The defendant tavern and management company denied the allegations of negligence. These defendants contended that their actions comported with applicable law and they did everything in their power to prevent any altercation between the parties. The defendants further argued that they owed no duty to the plaintiff since the altercation took place outside of the defendant’s property. The defendant assailants denied liability to the plaintiff and maintained that the plaintiff started the fight and they acted in self-defense. Consequently, these defendants argued that the plaintiff caused his own injuries and damages by provoking the fight.The matter was tried. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury deliberated and entered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendants. Liability was assessed at 45% to defendant Newbury, 45% to defendant Lyons Group, 5% to defendant Rease and 5% to the plaintiff. The remaining two individual defendants were found not liable to the plaintiff. The jury awarded the plaintiff the sum of $________ in damages.

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