Massachusetts Appeals Court Reverses Judgment for Bar Patron in Case Against Owner of Establishment Following Head Injury Due to Thrown Beer Bottle

When someone gets hurt on another person’s property, there is a possibility that the injured person may be able to seek compensation from the property owner if he or she can prove that the injuries were caused by the owner’s negligence.

Massachusetts premises liability cases – sometimes called “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” cases – can be difficult, however. The burden of proof in any negligence case is on the plaintiff, and a failure to prove any of the four elements of negligence (duty, breach of duty, causation, or damages) will prevent the plaintiff from a monetary recovery.

Facts of the Case

In a recent, unreported court decision issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appeals Court, the plaintiff was a man who was allegedly injured while a patron at a bar owned by the defendant. A jury trial in the plaintiff’s negligence case seeking compensation for injuries resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff. The defendant appealed, insisting that the trial court should have either directed a verdict in its favor or granted its motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

Decision of the Appellate Court

The court agreed with the defendant that the plaintiff had failed to meets his burden of proof at trial and, accordingly, reversed the trial court’s decision in his favor. The court first observed that, in order for a defendant to be held liable for negligent conduct, there must be proof that it failed to discharge a particular duty of care owed to the plaintiff. In addition, the harm that befell the plaintiff must have been reasonably foreseeable, and the defendant’s breach of duty must have been the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

The court then observed that the plaintiff was hurt when a beer bottle “came flying from the area where [a] disturbance was occurring” in a crowded restaurant/lounge/bar. In response to the plaintiff’s assertion that the defendant had failed to take adequate security measures to prevent the incident in which he was injured, the court was of the opinion that the plaintiff had failed to prove his case. In so holding, the court noted that the plaintiff did not know how many security personnel were present at the time of the incident or whether the number was “unreasonably low,” whether the police had been alerted to the apparent confrontation that led to the incident, or how long it would have taken officers to respond to the scene. The plaintiff also failed to show whether there had been prior incidents on the defendant’s premises that required intervention from police or security personnel.

Talk to an Attorney About a Premises Liability Case on Cape Cod

Ultimately, the plaintiff in this case failed in his efforts to recover compensation for his injuries, but it is important to note that each negligence case is unique. Premises liability cases in particular are very fact-specific. If you or a loved one has been hurt on someone else’s property, you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. To schedule an appointment to discuss your case with an experienced Cape Cod premises liability attorney, call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, at 888-262-6664. There is no charge to come into our Plymouth or Hyannis offices to talk about your premises liability or other personal injury case.

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