Man injured at Annapolis festival sues $1.5 million suit filed over head injuries

September 03, 1992|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A patron at last year's Annapolis Wine & Food Celebration filed suit yesterday against the festival operators, alleging that he was injured because of lax security.

Richard Devine, 35, of Catonsville, filed suit in county Circuit Court, claiming he was hurt June 8, 1991, when a child sliding down a hill on a piece of cardboard struck him in the head as he lay on the grass listening to music.

The festival was held that year on the campus at St. John's College. It was moved this year to the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium on Rowe Boulevard because of a ban on alcohol imposed by St. John's.

The suit alleges that the festival operator "was well aware of the mischievous, boisterous, undisciplined, dangerous and disobedient natures" of the patrons but was negligent in policing the event.

That negligence was responsible for Mr. Devine's head injuries, which have caused him to lose work, pay medical expenses and "experience great pain and suffering," the suit alleges.

The suit, which seeks $1.5 million in compensatory damages, names as co-defendants both the festival operators and Phelps Protection Systems, Inc. of Annapolis, which provided the security.

Robert W. Katz, Mr. Devine's co-counsel, said his client was examined by physicians at Johns Hopkins Hospital who found serious neurological damage.

He said that Mr. Devine was a computer specialist at the University of Maryland and that he was out of work for several months after the accident. He is back at work, but at a less challenging job, he said.

Phelps Protection had no comment.

Robert Harrison, producer of the festival and a manager at the Middleton Tavern in Annapolis, said yesterday that the accident occurred at about 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday evening when there were about 3,500 patrons and about 10 security officers on duty. He said it happened after children had been told a number of times not to slide on the hill.

"It was a fluke accident. We did have a security force there, and that was one of the things they were enforcing," Mr. Harrison said. "The kids were told not to do it, but this kid, I guess, didn't want to listen."

He said Mr. Devine had been negotiating for a settlement with the festival's insurance company, the Traveler's Insurance Co., of Hartford, Conn., for months.

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