A police officer wading into a rowdy college crowd in Orono to arrest unruly guests fell and broke his ankle. As this incident occurred while he was working, he’s almost certainly entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, that only covers part of his expenses, and he has since filed a premises liability lawsuit against the apartment complex where he fell.
In Angelo v. Campus Crest at Orono LLC, the Old Town police officer alleges the management company that operates The Grove apartment complex – the largest off campus living quarters near The University of Maine – was negligent in failing to maintain the property in safe condition. The party to which he responded from outside his jurisdiction was huge, with an estimated 400 people – mostly students – in attendance. Many were drinking alcohol, despite being underage.
Apartment complex managers may not be responsible for every gathering at their location, but the issue here was the fact this was a regular occurrence on this site. The complex opened in 2012, and there was a similar large party that took place there at that time. There was another large party there the following year, just after school started. In this instance, students again amassed on the site the first weekend after classes started.
From this perspective, the gathering was predictable, foreseeable. That means the property owner would have had a duty to address it and mitigate the risks – not just to responding officers, but to other residents as well as those in attendance.
According to news reports of the incident, plaintiff was working the next town over from Orono when he received a call from the police department there, seeking assistance from agencies as far away as Hamden (about 25 miles away) to assist with a large congregation of young people at the complex. They were refusing to disperse after repeated requests.
Plaintiff arrived and found the crowd was “unruly,” “uncooperative” and “many were apparently intoxicated.”
There were numerous orders made by law enforcement on scene to get the crowd to leave. However, most refused, instead choosing to mull around. A few began yelling obscenities at the officers. A police supervisor then issued a final dispersal warning. In that warning, he indicated over a loudspeaker that anyone who remained on scene risked arrest. After making this announcement, officers waited a “reasonable time,” and then began to make arrests.
Plaintiff initiated the arrest of one person, who began to struggle. In the course of this, plaintiff lost his balance, fell and suffered severe injury to his ankle. Specifically, the ankle had undergone a displaced fracture, and the only way to fix it was to undergo an open reduction internal fixation surgical procedure.
In total, the officer’s medical bills reached nearly $20,000. He also lost nearly $15,000 in wages from being forced off-duty for nine weeks, before returning to light duty for three months.
Lawsuit alleges the apartment complex was negligent for:
- Negligent security (i.e., failure to have police or adequate private security for such a large party);
- Failure to implement measures that would prevent such large gatherings;
- Failure to prohibit consumption of alcohol outside private apartments.
A representative for the apartment complex declined to comment on the litigation when reached by a reporter.
The apartment has also been held responsible per town ordinance to pay thousands of dollars for costs related to police expenses and calling in other towns for assistance.
If you are injured, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Angelo v. Campus Crest at Orono LLC, Nov. 17, 2015, Maine District Court, Bangor Office
More Blog Entries:
Maine Toddler Dies of E. Coli Bacteria Infection, Father Blames Petting Zoo, Oct. 25, 2015, Bangor Injury Lawyer Blog