In most areas of law, the legal system does not allow one person to be held responsible for a third-party action of another.
But there are several exceptions, and a few of those relate to a situation unfolding in Rockland, little more than an hour north of Bangor. According to The Bangor Daily News, a pub owner has just had his renewal for an entertainment license rejected. In its decision, council cited repeated noise violations, numerous liquor violations of alcohol being sold to minors and pages and pages of police reports originating from that location.
Neighbors who own property near the pub have made numerous complaints. They say disturbances occur nightly, and they are constantly cleaning up cigarette butts and urine stains from the sides of buildings.
Such violations are annoying, to be sure. But the greater potential for injury is in the constant fights on the property and service of alcohol to minors.
Property owners in general can be held liable for personal injuries that result when they fail to provide adequate security to guests. This is primarily applicable to landlords of larger properties and business owners. When a property owner is aware that guests may be in danger – as evidenced by a long list of police reports regarding fights and other issues – he or she would have a duty to do something about it. That could mean hiring security guards. It could mean limiting occupancy or hiring off-duty police officers to maintain crowd control. It could mean screening for weapons at the door or ensuring adequate lighting in the parking lot and common areas.
There is no one thing that constitutes “adequate security,” but the general requirement is that property owners make property reasonably safe safe from foreseeable harm. Of course, many defendants in cases like this will argue they could not have foreseen a third-party criminal act. But in this kind of situation, the long list of police reports will refute that assertion. A long list of violence at a particular site will serve to show the action was foreseeable.
Another way an establishment might find itself at the center of a civil injury or wrongful death lawsuit would be through Maine’s dram shop law.
Maine Revised Statutes Title 28-A, Chapter 100, is also known as the “Maine Liquor Liability Act,” and it establishes the circumstances under which an establishment can be held liable for injuries caused by a drunk driver. The law essentially says a state-licensed vendor of alcohol can be liable for negligently or recklessly providing alcohol to someone who is either under the age of 21 or who is intoxicated.
Negligent service of alcohol occurs when a server knows or should know the person served is under 21 or visibly intoxicated. Reckless service of alcohol is knowingly serving a minor or someone intoxicated and consciously disregards an obvious and substantial risk of substantial harm. A dram shop case may be especially strong if plaintiff can show there is a history of such disregard at a given establishment.
Contact Bangor injury attorney Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Rockland pulls pub’s entertainment permit because of ‘egregious’ violations, May 12, 2015, By Stephen Betts, Bangor Daily News
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Bangor Health Safety Officials Say 6,000 Apartments Need Routine Inspection, March 20, 2015, Bangor Injury Attorney Blog