It’s fairly common for action movies to include a bar fight scene where the main characters are outnumbered and yet somehow manage to pull off some smooth maneuvers that leave their opponents wishing the fight had never started in the first place. Then the plot moves on and the viewers rarely think again about the physical injuries that anyone who was wounded may be suffering from. Unfortunately, in real life, the camera can’t just pan left, magically healing the injuries that were sustained and the victims don’t always walk away nearly unscathed.
Read more: New York Personal Injury Protection Laws
On December 28th, 2012, a 38-year-old man joined some of his friends at a local sports bar to grab a few drinks. While enjoying their time, they were approached by a man who has been described as a “skinhead”. According to court documents, the man, Brent Dimmitt who has a shaved head and numerous tattoos on his scalp, started telling the group of friends that he didn’t like the way they were looking at him. He then proceeded to brag that he was a member of a gang and that he had just been released from prison, having served time for robbery and weapons charges.
In an attempt to defuse the situation, the group of friends decided to leave and headed out to the parking lot, but Dimmitt followed them and attacked.
He punched the 38-year-old, knocking him unconscious and then began to repeatedly kick and hit him despite the attempts of two of his friends to stop the attack. Dimmitt then went back into the bar and bragged about how he had knocked him out cold and beaten him. Shortly after the fight began, the police arrived and arrested Dimmitt but by then, the damage had been done.
While emergency responders were able to get the victim to the hospital quickly and doctors were able to save his life, his injuries were so extensive that he spent 7 months in the hospital and required $850,000 in medical bills. He will also need ongoing care because doctors have declared that he is permanently disabled, suffering from numerous impairments and hemiparesis.
Through his guardian, he decided to take legal action and in addition to the criminal charges pressed against Dimmitt, he sued both Dimmitt and the bar.
In his complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the fight which caused him so much harm was foreseeable and that if the correct security measures had been put into place, he wouldn’t have been hurt.
The case went to trial and many witnesses testified on the plaintiff’s behalf. First, several bar employees spoke to the fact that the bar had no bouncers or security plan that they were aware of, despite the fact that fights broke out frequently. Then, three police officers testified to the fact that the police had been called to the bar at least 155 times in a one year period and that around the police department, the bar had a reputation for illegal activities and fights. Finally, a security and crime prevention consultant testified that he had found that the bar had absolutely no security measures in place, despite an ongoing history of violence both inside and outside of the bar.
At the end of the trial, the jury determined that the bar was 70% at fault, Dimmitt was 25% at fault, and the plaintiff was 5% at fault and awarded the plaintiff $10 million.
Under premise liability laws, property owners are responsible for keeping visitors to their property safe. Not only does this mean fixing any physical hazards like broken steps or cleaning up spilled liquids, but it also means taking steps to provide reasonable security measures such as surveillance cameras and bouncers.
It’s not unreasonable, in an atmosphere where alcohol is being served and people may become rowdy, that patrons expect a bar to have a bouncer or security guard, especially at a bar with such a long history of violence and crime.
If the bar fails to do what is reasonable and someone becomes hurt, they may find that they have been named as the defendants in a civil lawsuit.
In order to obtain compensation, the plaintiff must prove that the owner of the property they were harmed on failed to do everything they should have to keep the plaintiff safe. This can be difficult without the help of an attorney.
The legal team at Banville Law combines our passion, dedication, and experience to fight for crime victims' rights. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today for your free consultation.