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home : news : news July 21, 2017

4/20/2017 3:56:00 PM
Smitty's settles out-of-court

The civil lawsuit against the manager and owner of Smitty’s bar, on Railroad Avenue,  in Chisago City has been settled out of court.  The dollar amount remains confidential, but is six figures.  The suit was filed one year ago and had been scheduled for a jury trial in Center City this spring.

The suit alleged negligence by bar manager Dean Weiss and owner Stanch Holdings Inc. was also a party in the civil suit;  alleging the wrongful death of Joel Rivard.

Stanch Holdings (John Stanchfield) purchased Smitty’s in 2012 after previous owners became non-complaint with city bar licensure conditions.

With no trial taking place the allegations will unfortunately never be presented in court, said  Rivard family Attorney Vince Stevens.

He stressed that a settlement is not an admission of fault.  The main benefit from a settlement is for Rivard’s family, including a young daughter,  “...devastated by the loss and the settlement provides some sense of closure to the family.”

According to sworn statements by employees and witnesses-- included with  the court documents-- Smitty’s manager Dean Weiss prevented bar staff from calling 9-1-1, on May 25, 2014 when Rivard reportedly fell, causing a wound and exhibited what witnesses said were symptoms of a possible stroke or brain hemorrhage.

Employees of Smitty’s put Rivard in a car and drove him to his house outside of Chisago City and dropped him off alone. A waitress ordered to assist during the incident by Weiss;  declared in her written statements she was prohibited from calling 9-1-1 on her cell phone by Weiss.  She was instructed to provide Rivard an over the counter product, a canned energy drink and to give him paper napkins for his bleeding head/face.  

Sheriff’s authorities responded to a call later the next afternoon-- when Rivard was found dead at his house in the township.  

The deputy wrote in his report the death appeared accidental and likely from over-consumption/self injury and that there was no evidence of foul play.  
Rivard would have been 41 years old this April 30th.

Rivard’s next-of-kin filed the civil suit alleging that Rivard should have received emergency medical care and that the bar manager deliberately failed to summon help to protect the business.  

Smitty’s Bar was originating too many 9-1-1 calls and at a hearing reviewing violations of Chisago City regulations,  held before the city council prior to the Rivard tragedy,  Smitty’s owner and operator were advised by council to avoid the police calls list.

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