TSM Chris Arsenault
One employee was stuck with a needle in her hand as she was trying to clean one of the chairs.
TSM Chris Arsenault

Walk into some of the theaters at Flagship Cinemas New Bedford and you'll see something strange.  Some of them are half empty...meaning the front half of the theater is void of any seats.  The reason may be startling.  Flagship Regional Manager Bud Shepard told Fun 107 that the staff had found 4 dirty hypodermic needles stuffed within the leather seats over a 6 month period.  One employee was stuck with a needle in her hand as she was trying to clean one of the chairs.  That employee, says Shepard, is doing fine and is undergoing a series of infection control measures.  The fourth and final needle was found as the company was removing the leather chairs from the theaters.

Flagship began using wands to clean the leather chairs, but decided that wasn't enough.  More action was necessary.

"There's no way to control this problem.  There's no way you can pat down customers for needles as they come in.  It was very disturbing.  We contemplated putting plastic covers over the leather seats, but, in the end, we had to do what was right for our customers and employees...what would keep them safe."  --Bob Shepard, Regional Manager

That meant ripping out all of the plush chairs from the theaters, leaving only conventional movie seats.  "We had never had a problem in the old chairs before...the needles would just fall to the floor," said Shepard.  They'd be swept up with the popcorn and M&M boxes.

Ultimately, Flagship Cinemas' insurance company looked at the needle problem as a liability issue and urged the cinema to remove the leather seats.  The theater complied.

It is no secret that Massachusetts is dealing with an escalating drug problem.  Today Governor Baker signed into law a measure that would tighten up the state's control of opioids and other prescription drugs.