To the north of Boston is the town of Saugus. In Saugus is a restaurant named “Maddy’s Restaurant”. Maddy’s has a parking lot. On July 29th, a fight occurred at the parking lot which allegedly led to two men being stabbed and one allegedly being struck with a beer bottle. On September 29th, Bob Wong of Maddy’s was invited to appear before the Saugus Board of Selectmen’s meeting to explain it. No criminal charges, mind you. No criminal defense attorney.
But the finger of accusation nonetheless.
The police investigation had involved several agencies who were called in to attend to the assault victims. These included the Cambridge Police, Cambridge Hospital, Massachusetts State Police , local firefighters and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Nobody has alleged that Mr. Wong had any part in the fight. In fact, the fight had taken place over an hour after Maddy’s had closed for the night. However, the Board of Selectmen were investigating what, if any, liability Maddy’s may have had in the incident. They had asked for a
representative of Maddy’s to appear before them to tell their side of the story as an alternative to proceeding directly to a show-cause hearing.
Mr. Wong commended the board for its policy of calling in license holders to tell their side of the story. He explained that Maddy’s had hosted a birthday party on July 29 from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. with no problems surfacing among the 60 or so people who attended the private function. In fact, Mr. Wong explained that ,”Everyone was well-dressed and well-behaved,”.
Mr. Wong further told the board that Maddy’s caters to a mostly over-40 crowd and doesn’t bring in the type of entertainment prone to violence.
Police Chief Domenic DiMella also testified at the meeting. He confirmed that the incident occurred a significant time after Maddy’s had shut down for the night. He added that restaurant management had cooperated with the investigation that generated an arrest.
However, not all the selectmen were satisfied. One Selectman advised that whether hosting a private function or not an establishment is still responsible for ensuring public safety. He further warned Mr. Wong that the Board keeps all incidents on file and recommended that in the future Maddy’s consider beefing up security measures for parties held on site
Attorney Sam’s Take:
“Ok, so what is this, Sam?”, you ask. “A hearing about a liquor license? I thought this was a blog about the criminal law.”
“Well, was Mr. Wong arrested?”
“Do they claim he was involved in the fight or provided the knife?”
Not as far as I know.
“So how does Maddy’s problems after the fight have to do with criminal justice?”
Because criminal charges can come out of such incidents that are not necessarily limited to the individuals directly involved. In civil litigation, they sometimes call it “vicarious liability.” However, claims that involve, in effect, negligence are sometimes brought in the criminal setting as well.
Let’s look at an extreme yet very topical example, the death of Michael Jackson. Nobody is claiming that his physician who treated him to massive doses of propofol was trying to kill him. However, there is a homicide investigation underway that is focusing on whether the good doctor’s outrageous negligence led to the death of his famous patient. No, this is not to prepare a civil case…it is a criminal investigation.
Matters involving criminal negligence usually arise in situations involving the death of an innocent party as a result of negligent acts of another, most usually out cases involving the operation of a motor vehicle by a person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or simply driving to endanger.
Let us look at another recent case. Back in 2008, I wrote a few blog postings about a tragic death that took place at a gun club. The gun club had a function in which a young child was somehow allowed to fire a small machine gun. The gun was too much for the boy and he ended up shooting himself in the head, killing himself. It was an accident. Nobody meant for it to happen. However, a little boy was dead. What happened? A bunch of indictments charging people running the event with the unintentional death were handed down. It is noteworthy that this particular event had been held many times in the past with no protest by the powers that be whatsoever. However, this time, a little boy was dead.
Often, there needs to be someone to blame.
“Big difference, Sam. In the Maddy’s case, the brawlers would be the people to blame.”
True enough. However, the finger of blame does not always stop at that level.
The Selectman made it a point to blast Maddy’s and “remind” them that they had a duty to public safety. He even suggested that they improve their security. But the place was closed! Further, there is no indication that the fight that occurred outside had anything to do with anyone who had been inside Maddy’s.
In this case, there does not seem to be an interest in criminally prosecuting Maddy’s. But, then again, nobody died. Would it have been different if someone had died?
It very well may have been.
In the meantime, Maddy’s license was at risk which, as you can imagine, would have been a hard hit for the restaurant.
And so back to what it means to you. Be aware of what goes on around you…whether it is technically on your watch or not. You would be surprised how criminal charges can come up.
If you feel you are in the sites of law enforcement for a possible criminal charge, whether or not you feel you did anything wrong, do not wait. Get an experienced criminal defense attorney involved to try to find out what is going on and how to best prepare for it. If you wish to discuss the matter me, please feel free to call me at (617) 206-1942.
For the full articles upon which today’s blog is based, go to http://www.wickedlocal.com/saugus/news/x366044674/Maddy-s-explains-parking-lot-incident and http://www.itemlive.com/articles/2009/07/31/news/news06.txt