Homicide victim’s family not pursuing lawsuit

Posted Aug. 09, 2011, at 1:29 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 10, 2011, at 7:45 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A sister of homicide victim Ralph Greenleaf of Bangor, who died a year ago after he was pushed and hit his head during a fall, said last week that the family is not currently pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit.

“I dropped my case,” Deborah Patten said in a telephone interview. “I talked to my mother and we decided to let it go.”

Patten said she and other family members also spoke to a lawyer about filing a lawsuit but agreed that they wouldn’t go forward.

“It’s tough,” she said. “The decision hasn’t been easy.”

Attempts to reach Patten on Tuesday — after news that her brother’s fiancee, Dale Lambert of Bangor, had filed a civil lawsuit against three people she says are responsible for Greenleaf’s death — were unsuccessful.

In her lawsuit filed in Penobscot County Superior Court, Lambert alleged that while “acting in concert,” Alex Gallant, Gordon Webb and Kyle Leeman, all of whom went to Bangor High School at the same time and played sports there, pushed Greenleaf, causing him to fall and “resulting in serious injury and eventually in his death.”

The altercation occurred just after area bars closed early on Sunday, Aug. 29, 2010, the last day of the American Folk Festival. At around 1:25 a.m., an unconscious Greenleaf was taken by ambulance to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. He died three days later, at 11:20 p.m. Sept. 1, 2010.

The owner of Carolina Sports and Spirits, located near to where Greenleaf was pushed, told the Bangor Daily News shortly after the incident last year that his bouncers told him a group of young people provoked the confrontation and needed to be pulled off the victim. A member of the band playing at the bar called for an ambulance.

Lambert said she was inside Carolina’s and Greenleaf was waiting for her outside.

“My belief is if the girlfriend wasn’t at Carolina’s, my brother would still be alive today,” Patten said. “If he hadn’t gone there seeking her out, he would be alive today.”

Lambert could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Her attorney, William Robitzek of Lewiston, said that he would investigate Patten’s comments.

Greenleaf’s autopsy report indicated he had been drinking heavily and, according to witnesses, was argumentative just before he was pushed and fell in the street under the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge, fracturing his skull.

Greenleaf was one of nine siblings who grew up in Searsport, where he is now buried in a small cemetery on the Back Searsport Road, his sister said. At the time of his death, he

had been a longtime employee of Roof Systems of Maine in Bangor, where he worked as a kettle tender. Greenleaf had worked for the company since 1992.

Patten said the decision not to pursue a lawsuit against the person who pushed her brother was made based on a lack of financial resources and the fact that “it wasn’t a guarantee.”

“It’s not that I don’t want justice from my brother. I do want justice,” she said.

Patten added: “Karma comes around and goes around, and when it comes back it will bite [the person responsible.]”

A wrongful death lawsuit, which would have to be filed within two years of Greenleaf’s death, is still a possibility, according to Patten.

“I often sit and wonder if I should have pursued it,” she said.

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