Concertgoers bring class action lawsuit challenging Foxborough’s practice of improperly taking people into protective custody 

Today we filed a class action lawsuit in federal court on behalf of two men who were taken into protective custody at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, alleging that the Foxborough police are putting people into protective custody even when the people are not incapacitated. The lawsuit alleges that it is unconstitutional to take people into custody simply because they are perceived to be under the influence of alcohol.

Paul Weldner and Timothy Dutton planned to attend the Bruce Springsteen concert at Gillette Stadium on August 18, 2012. They drank alcohol before the concert, but they were not incapacitated. They had rented a bus so they could travel safely. Foxborough police officers detained Mr. Weldner and Dr. Dutton before they entered the concert and placed them into protective custody along with over sixty others.

Mr. Weldner and Dr. Dutton sued Foxborough police chief Edward O’Leary and the Town of Foxborough on behalf of all the people affected by Foxborough’s unconstitutional use of the protective custody statute. Our lawsuit alleges that Foxborough established a policy of taking people into protective custody even though the people detained were not incapacitated by alcohol consumption. As a result of this policy, which has been applied at numerous events, over one thousand people have been handcuffed and placed in cells merely because they were perceived to be under the influence of alcohol. At the Country Music Festival in August 2012, 467 people were taken into protective custody.

Since 1971, a person cannot be arrested in Massachusetts simply for being intoxicated. A person can be taken into protective custody only if they are incapacitated. The lawsuit alleges that Foxborough’s practices violate the constitutional right to be free from unreasonable seizures.

Our lawsuit seeks money damages for violations of the class members’ constitutional rights, as well as an end to the policy. Click here to view the complaint.

Click here to listen to Howard Friedman speak about this case on WBUR.

Here is a news story about this case from CBS Boston:



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