Bouncer Battery: Patrons’ Rights

The combination of large groups of people, alcohol, and other factors may result in a dispute that escalates into violence. This is possible in, among other places, New York bars and clubs. These establishments frequently employ security personnel and/or bouncers to keep the peace. However, what happens when one is injured by one of these people?

If injured by a bar bouncer, there are a number of legal theories that an injured bar patron may pursue. These include assault against the bouncer, battery against the bouncer, negligence against the bouncer, and negligence against the bar.

For example, in Gill v. Scooby’s Bar & Lounge, Inc., 32 Misc. 3d 1204(A), 932 N.Y.S.2d 760 (Sup. Ct. Qns. Cty. 2011), the court denied the defendant bar’s motion for summary judgment. It explained:

Here, the plaintiff presented testimony that the person who struck him was employed by the defendant as a bouncer on the night of the incident. Plaintiff testified that the individual checked people’s identification and searched them prior to entering the bar. Accepting as true for the purposes of this motion the plaintiff’s version of events, he stated that he was punched by a bouncer without justification and as such the bouncer’s actions constituted an intentional assault. Plaintiff stated he was struck by the bouncer without provocation when he went to the aid of his friend[.] …

[D]efendant has failed to establish, as a matter of law, that the person who struck the plaintiff was not an employee of the bar. The defendant did not submit any records or documents to show who was employed at the bar on the night of the incident. A triable issue of fact exists as to whether the alleged assailant of the plaintiff was Scooby’s employee. In addition, assuming that the assailant was an employee, a question of fact exists as to whether the assailant was acting within the scope of his employment when he allegedly struck the plaintiff. There is also a question of fact as to whether plaintiff assumed the risk of his injuries as he testified that he was hit without justification of provocation.

The outcomes of these cases, of course, are heavily fact-dependent.

If you have been injured by a bar’s bouncer/security, contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation.

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