Massachusetts Court Affirms $70,500 Judgment Against Bar Operators After Alleged Stabbing – Pena v. Pena

You may already know that business operators and landowners can be held liable for injuries that occur on their property. Slip-and-fall accidents (also called fall down accidents or trip and falls) fall under a category of negligence law known as premises liability. What you may not know is that businesses’ and property owners’ liability can also extend to injuries or deaths sustained due to the actions of a third party, if the defendant is found to have been lax with regard to security.

The reason for this is that premises liability law requires property owners to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition. The courts have interpreted this requirement as including taking reasonable precautions to keep visitors (such as hotel guests and nightclub patrons) safe from harm. While not every act of violence is foreseeable or preventable, landowners have a duty to act appropriately given the circumstances of a particular security risk.

Facts of the Case

In the recent (unreported) case of Pena v. Pena, the defendants were the operators of a bar in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the operators, alleging that, because of the operators’ negligence, a bar patron stabbed the plaintiffs. The trial court entered judgment for the plaintiffs, awarding one of them $70,000 in damages and the other $500 in damages. The operators appealed, urging that the trial court’s judgment was not supported by the evidence.

The Case of Appeal

The court first noted that, in the court below, the operators had “defaulted” (perhaps by failing to file a timely answer to the plaintiffs’ complaint). The trial judge had then held an evidentiary hearing for the purpose of assessing the plaintiffs’ damages. The defendants argued on appeal that the trial court judge’s findings were erroneous, but the appellate court affirmed the judgment for the plaintiffs. Since the defendants did not provide the appellate court with a transcript of the evidentiary hearing in the lower court, there was no basis for a finding that the trial court judge had made a mistake in the award of damages to the plaintiffs. Without a transcript to prove otherwise, the appellate court was required to assume that the trial judge’s findings were adequately supported by the record.

To Talk to a Lawyer About a Possible Cape Cod Premises Liability Lawsuit

If you or someone in your family has been hurt because of the negligence of a landowner or business operator, the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, can review the facts of your case and inform you of your legal rights. To talk to an experienced Cape Cod negligent security and premises liability lawyer, call 888-262-6664 and ask for a free consultation. We serve all of Cape Cod from our Hyannis and Plymouth offices. If you need us to come to your home or hospital room to discuss your case, we will be glad to make arrangements to do so. Nos falamos Portugues!

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