EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 15, 2012

Restaurant gets probation in deck fall case

Owner's lawyer says victim is considering filing lawsuit

HAVERHILL — The License Commission declined to punish Hans Garden for allegedly over-serving a patron who toppled off the restaurant’s outside deck because the victim refused to come before the board.

Matthew McKay, 26, of Methuen, spent three days in a Boston hospital and suffered three cracked ribs, a collapsed lung, internal bleeding and a sprained ankle after falling from a roughly 10-foot-high structure at the back of the downtown Chinese food restaurant Aug. 25. According to police reports, McKay told officers at the scene that he had been drinking at the restaurant for “a while” and consumed “several” alcoholic drinks there.

The incident eventually led to new rules for restaurants and bars that allow drinking alcohol on decks, including that they are now required to assign workers to closely monitor deck drinking at their busiest time.

Tony Hans, the owner of the Washington Street restaurant, brought several bartenders and workers with him to last night’s hearing to say they never served alcohol to McKay on the night he was injured.

They didn’t have to testify because McKay never showed up, however.

Sergeant Dana Burrill said he tried to contact McKay several times to ask him to come to the hearing and even had a Methuen police officer go to McKay’s home to relay the request in person. Burrill said McKay hung up when he called him and refused to identify himself to the Methuen officer.

Scott Gleason, Hans’ attorney, told the commission he was recently contacted by a personal injury lawyer who is representing McKay in a potential lawsuit against his client.

“We may see Santa Clause here before we see McKay,” License Commission chairman Joseph Edwards said.

Edwards also noted that police never saw McKay drinking inside the restaurant because they arrived after he had fallen.

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