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No sanctions for concert venues over drug overdoses

The House of Blues and the Bank of America Pavilion won’t face sanctions after a panel said no violations occurred.Yoon S. Byun/ Globe Staff/ file/Globe staff

The Boston Licensing Board decided on Thursday to issue no sanctions against two concert venues where six patrons suffered drug overdoses in late August, including one episode that killed a young New Hampshire woman.

In its ruling, the board decided that the House of Blues nightclub and the Bank of America Pavilion did not commit any violations.

The rulings came two days after regulators held hearings on the clubs' security and responses to the overdoses. In both cases, police told the board there was likely nothing the clubs could have done to prevent the incidents.

The clubs' attorney did not respond to inquiries Thursday, and the chair of the Licensing Board could not be reached.


At the House of Blues, three spectators overdosed early Aug. 28 on the club drug Molly, and one of them, Brittany Flannigan, 19, of Derry, N.H., died as a result, according to authorities.

Just days after her death, three patrons suffered overdoses Aug. 31 at a concert at the pavilion, an outdoor amphitheater on the South Boston waterfront.

Jim Jensen, the pavilion's general manager, told the board at Tuesday's hearing that one of the victims had only been at the concert a few minutes when he became unsteady on his feet. Concert employees called medics, and the man was rushed to the hospital.

He also said patrons are checked at the entrance for signs of intoxication.

"Whenever we see someone who does not appear to be in good condition, we stop them and call law enforcement," Jensen said.

Patricia Malone, director of the city's Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing, said Thursday that the House of Blues developed a thorough plan to deter drug use at the office's request. She said the club also agreed to give free water at electronic dance shows to prevent patrons from becoming dehydrated.


In addition, Malone said, the club has put up posters warning people about the dangers of club drugs and has required employees to take a training session held by police and health officials.

"Hopefully, we'll never have a tragedy like this again," she said.

Malone's office is separate from the Licensing Board. She held a prior hearing with House of Blues representatives last month, in which the club defended its security policies, saying it is known as the "House of Rules" for extensive searches at the door.

On the night of the overdoses, House of Blues turned away more than 130 people who appeared to be impaired, the club said.

The incidents at both clubs prompted the Licensing Board to issue a statement about two weeks ago that included a number of recommendations for clubs to prevent overdoses.

"Here in Boston, we recently experienced the death of a young girl because of an overdose of the commonly named drug Molly," the board said. "Molly is not the only drug being taken and is not the only one causing serious and sometimes lethal injuries."

The board advised clubs to have a "strict policy" barring drug use on the premises; post signs reminding people to call 911 if someone is in distress; regularly monitor bathrooms or post an attendant in them; and scan crowds for drug users and sellers or people in distress, among other safeguards.

In March 2003, the US Drug Enforcement Administration issued a statement describing Molly as an "an extremely dangerous drug, which is clandestinely manufactured and marketed in 'Rave Clubs' as a more intense form of Ecstasy."


Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.