A bouncer lawsuit lawyer can sue a bar or nightclub for a customer who is assaulted in or just outside the premises. Many bouncers are overly aggressive and act far beyond the necessary limits to maintain an orderly and safe business for their employer.
When a person suffers serious injuries from a bouncer assault, the victim can file a personal injury lawsuit demanding compensation.
Anyone who goes out to a nightclub, a bar, or an entertainment venue might have some sort of interaction with a bouncer. Bouncers are workers who have been tasked with safety at a space or venue, including the safety of the patrons and the other employees at the establishment.
Frequently, bouncers are tasked with monitoring the premises for any potentially dangerous situations and controlling who can enter into a venue. This includes checking identification to ensure that guests are on a list or that guests are old enough to lawfully enter the premises.
Many times, they help collect cover charges and screen people upon entry. They are also there to handle arguments between patrons, break up fights, and remove people who are acting unruly or engaging in dangerous behavior.
In some situations, a bouncer might be required to use force against a customer or patron if that person poses a safety risk to others.
- Types of Cases That Can be Filed Against Bouncers
- Theories of Liability in a Bouncer Lawsuit
- Bouncers Who are Off-Duty Police Officers
- Excessive Force and Off-Duty Police Bouncers
- Bouncer Lawsuits Against More Than One Defendant
- Bouncer Lawsuits, Verdicts, and Settlements Across the Country
- File a Bouncer Lawsuit with the Assistance of an Injury Attorney
However, just because a bouncer may be able to use some force to complete a required job duty at a club or an entertainment venue does not mean that a bouncer can use enough force to cause serious or fatal injuries.
Much too often, bouncers use more force than is necessary to detain a patron or to remove a patron from an establishment. When this kind of excessive force occurs, the injured person may be able to file a lawsuit against the bouncer or the establishment.
In some cases, the bouncer might also be working as an off-duty police officer, which could result in a lawsuit against the county or city where the bouncer is employed as a police officer.
If you were injured after an encounter with a bouncer, or if you lost a loved one due to a bouncer’s excessive use of force at a nightclub or entertainment venue, you should seek advice from an experienced bouncer lawsuit attorney as soon as you can.
Each state has a statute of limitations on bouncer lawsuits and other personal injury claims, so it is important to begin working on your bouncer lawsuit as quickly as possible. Contact our law firm today to speak with a top-rated personal injury attorney.
Types of Cases That Can be Filed Against Bouncers
Bouncer lawsuits can arise from a variety of incidents at nightclubs, bars, and entertainment venues. While some bouncer actions that result in severe or fatal injuries might result in criminal charges, it is important to understand that any case you will be filing is a civil lawsuit.
Accordingly, even if there are criminal charges pending, you will be filing a personal injury lawsuit to seek financial compensation from the parties who are responsible for your bouncer injuries.
Generally speaking, bouncer lawsuits are either unintentional tort claims (i.e., claims arising out of a bouncer’s negligence) or intentional tort claims (i.e., claims arising out of a bouncer’s intentional behavior). Within the category of intentional torts, there are a variety of claims you may be able to make if you were injured by a bouncer.
The following are descriptions of the types of cases that our injury lawyers can file against a bouncer who caused your injuries:
- Bouncer lawsuit on the basis of negligence: Many lawsuits against bouncers are based on a theory of negligence. These kinds of unintentional tort claims can be filed if a bouncer’s negligent or careless behavior resulted in your injury. In other words, the bouncer did not intend to harm you, but his failure to act in a certain way or his actions resulted in your injury.
For example, if another patron at the venue started assaulting you and the bouncer permitted it to continue, you may be eligible to file a negligence claim against the bouncer or the establishment. Or, the failure to call police when the bouncer knew or should have known that a patron would be injured by another can give rise to a suit.
- False arrest by a bouncer: While many people assume that the term ‘false arrest’ applies only when law enforcement officials make an error, the term also applies to a potentially criminal situation in which one person prevents another person from leaving a particular area. In this context, false arrest can also be what is known as false imprisonment.
In general, to win false imprisonment or false arrest the claimant must show that a bouncer intended to keep them restrained or confined to a particular area and that the bouncer achieved his or her intention.
- Assault, or assault and battery lawsuits against bouncers: Many people know the terms ‘assault’ and ‘battery’ in a criminal law context, but they can also be the basis of intentional tort claims or civil lawsuits against a responsible party.
- An injured person may be able to file a civil lawsuit seeking financial compensation from the party or parties responsible. Assault is any act that puts another person in reasonable fear of imminent bodily harm. Battery is the touching of any type that is harmful or offensive to another person. Assault and battery often go hand-in-hand because assault frequently precedes battery, and battery often follows assault. Liability in assault and battery cases will depend upon the particular facts of your case.
A bouncer may be liable for engaging in threatening or physical behavior that puts a patron at the club in imminent fear of physical harm, and/or actually touching a patron at a club in a manner that harmed or was offensive to that patron. Bouncers, their employers, and other potential parties may be liable in an assault and battery case.
- Wrongful death lawsuit after a bouncer injury: Sometimes a bouncer’s actions cause the death of a patron at a bar or nightclub. Depending upon the circumstances surrounding the death, the personal representative of the estate or a surviving family member may be eligible to file a civil lawsuit in order to seek compensation.
Wrongful death claims are not distinct from the types of cases discussed above. Rather, any of the above types of cases may be filed as wrongful death claims if the injury victim did not survive his or her injuries. Family members can claim compensation for the loss of the loved one and other damages depending on the state where the death occurred.
- Fourth Amendment claim: When a bouncer is an off-duty police officer, some situations can arise in which the bouncer uses excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, giving the injury victim the ability to file a constitutional claim.
While Fourth Amendment claims in bouncer lawsuits are not common, they certainly do occur when these cases involve bouncers who are off-duty police officers.
Theories of Liability in a Bouncer Lawsuit
To sum up the types of cases we discussed above, theories of liability in a bouncer lawsuit may include but are not limited to the following:
- Negligence based on an unintentional tort;
- Assault and battery;
- False arrest or false imprisonment;
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress;
- Excessive force that violates a person’s rights under the Fourth Amendment; and
- Vicarious liability in cases where an employer can be held accountable for the bouncer’s behavior.
Bouncers Who are Off-Duty Police Officers
There are numerous bouncers across the country who work only part-time as bouncers, and often on evenings or weekends. Many of these part-time bouncers are employed as police officers or other law enforcement officials by day. There are situations when a bouncer who is an off-duty police officer might be seen as acting in his or her official capacity as a law enforcement official, and therefore could be deemed a state actor by the courts.
When this happens, the bouncer’s actions could open up liability to the city or county, and the bouncer’s actions could result in a Fourth Amendment violation. An experienced bouncer injury lawyer will help you to determine the likelihood that the bouncer’s position as an off-duty police officer could expand liability.
Different courts have their own tests for determining when a bouncer is acting in his or her official capacity as a law enforcement official and operating as a state actor. Courts make clear that simply being an off-duty police officer is not enough. Instead, the bouncer needs to have taken other steps or engaged in certain actions to open up government liability.
Courts can consider the general nature of the bouncer’s behavior under the circumstances and whether that behavior amounted to the bouncer acting in his or her official duties as a law enforcement official. In order for the city or county to be liable, it must have given permission for the off-duty police officer to work as a bouncer or must have known about the employment.
If this is true, then depending upon the specific facts of your case, any of the following could support the fact that the bouncer should be considered a state actor:
- Bouncer wore his or her law enforcement badge while working as a bouncer;
- Bouncer arrived to work at the nightclub or venue wearing his or her police uniform;
- Bouncer identifies himself or herself as a police officer or law enforcement official while working at a nightclub or venue; or
- Bouncer conducts a search on one of the patrons or engages in other behavior that may be appropriate for a police officer but not for a bouncer alone;
- Bouncer arrests one of the patrons or customers at a nightclub, bar, or event.
Excessive Force and Off-Duty Police Bouncers
Bouncers can have a variety of tasks that require them to use a limited amount of force in order to ensure the safety of other patrons or guests at the nightclub or venue. When a bouncer uses an appropriate amount of force, the bouncer cannot be responsible for injuries arising out of an excessive force claim.
In terms of a bouncer’s duties, for example, bouncers have the tasks of removing patrons from venues when they pose safety risks or refuse to follow rules, breaking up arguments or fights that might occur at a nightclub or event, and detaining patrons before law enforcement officials arrive. Bouncers may need to perform these tasks as part of their job duties, but they must only use a reasonable or necessary degree of force.
When a bouncer uses more force than is necessary to remove a patron from an establishment or to detain a patron before the police arrive, the bouncer can be liable for an excessive force claim. In cases in which that bouncer is an off-duty police officer, if the bouncer is acting in his or her capacity as a law enforcement official, then excessive force can lead to a claim under the Fourth Amendment.
Examples of excessive force—meaning that a bouncer may be liable for injuries—include but are not limited to the following:
- Punching, grabbing, kicking, head butting or choking a patron when the bouncer has not been physically threatened or assaulted.
- Using too much force and physical aggression in breaking up a bar fight or argument, when it was totally unnecessary to calm the situation or restore peace.
- Using a taser, club, or another weapon on a patron.
Bouncer Lawsuits Against More Than One Defendant
In addition to suing the bouncer, many lawsuits name more than one defendant. This usually includes the establishment or the employer, both of whom can be liable for injuries that result from a bouncer’s behavior. Our bouncer lawsuit lawyers will determine all potential parties that you can sue and file your case against all of them.
When it comes to holding a nightclub, bar, event space, or music venue accountable for a bouncer’s actions, the injured person will typically need to prove that the establishment (or the specific business owner) was negligent in hiring the bouncer because the bouncer had a history that made his or her harmful actions foreseeable. Or, if the bouncer has a previous history of assaults and continues to be employed at the venue, the employer may be liable.
Bouncer Lawsuits, Verdicts, and Settlements Across the Country
People injured by bouncers have filed lawsuits against a bouncer and there have been a number of jury verdicts and settlements. Examples of bouncer lawsuits include the following:
- $ 3.25 million dollar award in 2021 for the son of baseball star Roger Clemens and another man who were assaulted by bouncers at a Texas bar.
- 2020: Lawsuit filed against bouncers who put a man from Blue Mound, Illinois, in a chokehold in 2018, according to an article in The Telegraph.
- 2019: Lawsuit filed against security guards and bar in Southern California, Pacific Beach’s Backyard Kitchen and Tap, after a 21-year-old woman alleges she was violently thrown to the ground by the bouncers or guards at the restaurant and bar, according to a report from NBC San Diego.
- 2019: Former San Diego Statte University football player files a lawsuit for injuries caused by a bouncer at Pacific Beach’s Backyard Kitchen and Tap, the establishment cited above, after the bouncer allegedly “body-slammed him, leaving him with post-traumatic stress and mild brain damage.”
- 2021: Settlement for an undisclosed amount for death of a 35-year-old man at Louisville, KY Nowhere Bar who was thrown out of the bar by a bouncer and sustained fatal head injuries, according to an article in the Courier Journal.
- 2021: Parents of a Georgia Southern University freshman have appealed a verdict following the death of their 18-year-old son after “a bouncer slammed him into the ground,” according to a report from WTOC 11.
- 2020: Lawsuit alleges bouncers at a nightclub in Bend, Oregon “did nothing as a bar patron was attacked outside the bar and stabbed four times,” according to a report in The Bulletin. The lawsuit is a negligence claim against the bouncers and the owner of the Bend nightclub, Se7en, seeking $1 million.
- 2019: A nightclub patron in West Lubbock, Texas, filed a lawsuit after a bouncer engaged in violent physical contact that left the man “severely injured” such that he “could not get up and walk without assistance,” according to Everything Lubbock. The lawsuit was a negligence claim against the owners of the nightclub.
If you have questions about your claim or want to learn more about your eligibility to file a lawsuit, you should seek advice from a bouncer injury law attorney as soon as you can.
File a Bouncer Lawsuit with the Assistance of an Injury Attorney
When a bouncer intentionally restrains, removes, threatens, or negligently engages in harmful conduct with a patron, that guest may be able to sue for damages. The bars and venues, and in some cases even a police agency, may be responsible for paying you damages if you were injured by a bouncer.
To learn more about filing a bouncer lawsuit, you should seek advice from one of our experienced bouncer injury attorneys. We will evaluate your case and file a lawsuit if your case meets the legal requirements. We charge no fees unless you win a settlement
Contact the Buckfire Law Firm today for help with your bouncer injury claim.
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