Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 18,400+ case briefs...

Commonwealth v. Welansky

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
55 N.E.2d 902 (1944)



Barnett Welansky (defendant) spent most of his evenings running a night club he owned in Boston. The nightclub was a mix of various rooms, narrow hallways, and poorly marked exit doors. Three of the emergency exits were in obscure locations, poorly marked, and accessible only to knowledgeable employees. One of the emergency exits was blocked by a screen and several dining tables. Another exit was kept locked to prevent patrons from leaving without paying their bill. During a three-week period, Welansky was in the hospital. One evening during that period, a nightclub bartender asked an employee to turn on a light in a dark area of a room. The employee lit a match to see the bulb, turned the bulb in its socket to light it, and blew out the match. However, the flame of the match ignited a nearby palm tree, which then ignited a nearby low-hanging cloth. The fire spread rapidly. The crowd of around 1,000 panicked and unsuccessfully tried to get out of the nightclub. Many patrons and employees were killed. Welansky was charged with, and found guilty of, numerous counts of involuntary manslaughter through wanton or reckless conduct based on the overcrowding, installation of flammable decorations, absence of fire doors, and failure to maintain proper means of egress at the night club. Welansky appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Lummus, J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 497,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 497,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 18,400 briefs, keyed to 985 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.

Questions & Answers

Have a question about this case?

Sign up for a free 7-day trial and ask it

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial