Greenleaf fiancee sues 3 Bangor men over his death under bridge

Ralph Greenleaf with his fiancee, Dale Lambert, and her children.
Submitted photo
Ralph Greenleaf with his fiancee, Dale Lambert, and her children.
Posted Aug. 09, 2011, at 10:56 a.m.
Last modified Aug. 10, 2011, at 12:15 p.m.

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Alex Gallant
Alex Gallant
Kyle Leeman.
Kyle Leeman.
Gordon Webb in 2007.
Gordon Webb in 2007.

BANGOR, Maine — The fiancee of a local man who died last year after an altercation outside a bar under the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge has filed a lawsuit against three Bangor men — Alex Gallant, Gordon Webb and Kyle Leeman.

Dale M. Lambert of Bangor alleges in the complaint filed Aug. 1 in Penobscot County Superior Court that the defendants, “acting in concert,” pushed Ralph N. Greenleaf, causing him to fall, hit his head and die three days later from his injuries.

Lambert is seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress, pain and suffering. She also claims to have lost wages and experienced a loss of earning capacity as a result of Greenleaf’s death.

“Her life basically has fallen apart,” Lambert’s attorney, William Robitzek of Lewiston, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “This was a man she was in love with. They were about to be married. Her fiance virtually died in her hands. That’s an emotional trauma for anybody, and it certainly was to her.”

Lambert did not witness Greenleaf getting pushed or see him fall, Robitzek said.

“[Lambert] and Ralph Greenleaf had been living together in a loving, monogamous relationship for nine months and were engaged to be married approximately a month after the incident,” the lawsuit said. “[Lambert] stayed with Ralph and attended to him from the time he was pushed for the full three days until he died from the injuries inflicted by the fall.”

Greenleaf, 47, was involved in an altercation just after area bars closed early on Sunday, Aug. 29. Around 1:25 a.m. that day, he was taken unconscious by ambulance to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. He died three days later, at 11:20 p.m. Sept. 1, according to previously published reports.

The state medical examiner’s office ruled his death a homicide.

Dr. Fred Jordan, the pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Sept. 2, 2010, said recently that the blunt force head trauma that killed Greenleaf occurred to the back of his skull.

The autopsy report states that Greenleaf’s blood alcohol level, which was taken when he was admitted into the hospital, was 0.194, which is more than twice the legal limit to operate a car.

“Witnesses allege he was argumentative and was pushed down onto the street by an individual with whom he conversed outside the bar,” the autopsy report states.

The autopsy did not reveal exactly what Greenleaf hit his head on, Jordan said.

In November, the Penobscot County grand jury declined to return an indictment after hearing testimony and considering evidence for two days.

At a press conference Nov. 24, after the grand jury met, Lt. Tim Reid, head of the detective division for the Bangor police, said Greenleaf died after he was pushed once by an individual, fell and hit his head on the pavement, according to previously published reports.

In December, the Maine Attorney General’s Office joined the Bangor Police Department in declining to release police investigative files relating to Greenleaf’s death. The Bangor Daily News filed freedom of access requests with both agencies, asking for the police files in order to provide the public with a clearer picture of what occurred in the minutes before Greenleaf was pushed.

Both declined again Tuesday to release that information.

Gallant and Webb  graduated in 2007 and Leeman in 2006, all from Bangor High School. All three were athletes, according to Bangor Daily News archives. In May, Gallant and Webb graduated from Bates College in Lewiston and Leeman graduated from Husson University in Bangor.

Walter McKee of Augusta, the attorney for Gallant, said in an email Tuesday that his client did nothing wrong.

“We are convinced that when all of the facts are presented to a civil jury they will determine — just like the grand jury did — that Alex is innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever,” McKee said.

“This is really an insurance claim,” he added. “I just got the complaint today and I’ll be sending it right off to the insurance carrier.”

A family member of Webb referred all inquiries to attorney William Druary of Waterville. Druary declined to comment Tuesday on the case.

Webb is the son of Betsy Webb, the superintendent of the Bangor School Department.

Efforts to reach Wendell Large of Portland, who represents Leeman, were unsuccessful Tuesday because he was out of the country. Leeman could not be located for comment.

Lambert is suing under Maine’s “bystander statute,” Robitzek said Tuesday. Because she and Greenleaf never married, she is barred from suing under the wrongful death statute.

Greenleaf’s mother and-or siblings have until two years after his death to file a wrongful death lawsuit, but a sister of Greenleaf said last week they are not currently pursuing one.

BDN writer Nok-Noi Ricker contributed to this report.

CORRECTION:

An early version of this story contained an inaccuracy. Kyle Leeman graduated from Bangor High School in 2006.

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