Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bar Stool Attack is Grounds for Negligent Security Claim

Continuing with my theme of negligent security lawsuits we look at the recent trial of Eubanks v. Jack's Famous Bar.

On June 4, 2006, plaintiff Michael Eubanks, 49, a laborer, was having a drink at Jack's Famous Bar in Philadelphia. While sitting on a bar stool at the bar, an unidentified patron struck Eubanks in the back of the head with a glass beer mug sending Eubanks to the ground. The assailant then continued to strike Eubanks in the head and body with the beer mug as well as repeatedly kick him. Prior to the assault, the patron had directed racial slurs at Eubanks, who is black.  The fight was never broken up by bar personnel and the assailant was permitted to leave after the assault without incident.

The plaintiff was taken by ambulance to Temple University Hospital, where he was treated via open reduction internal fixation for a bimalleolar fracture to his right ankle. In addition, he suffered fractures of the spinous processes of his C6 and C7 vertebrae and multiple scalp lacerations, which required staple and suture closures. Eubanks then followed up with his family physician. He sought to recover a medical lien in the amount of $11,584.

Eubanks sued the bar, its president, Joseph Adelman, its vice president, Melvin Adelman, and the property owner, Allegheny House Association, for negligence. All defendants except for the bar were dismissed from the lawsuit prior to trial.

Eubank's attorneys argued that the bar's failure to provide adequate security allowed the Eubanks to be attacked and that the attacker's identity was never ascertained because he merely walked out of the bar unimpeded by any bar personnel.

Defense counsel argued that it was Eubanks who was the initial aggressor of the argument between him and the unknown patron and, therefore, he was the cause the altercation and his resulting injuries. Further, defense counsel said the argument between the two men happened so fast that there was nothing the defendants could have to done to prevent the attack on Eubanks.

The plaintiff claimed that the attack resulted in cognitive deficits -- specifically, daily headaches, difficulty concentrating, depression, anxiety and insomnia. Eubanks' non-treating neurologist testified that the subject incident caused the plaintiff's cognitive deficits, which he did not treat. Eubanks said that he continues to display such cognitive impairments and that he is unable to stand and walk for long periods of time due to his ankle, which still has surgical hardware intact.

The defense argued that the plaintiff's head injury was minor because he did not sustain any cerebral hemorrhage in the attack, and that any cognitive deficits were due to the plaintiff's history of mental illness and chronic alcoholism and drug abuse. Furthermore, the plaintiff's right ankle injury had completely resolved, said counsel.

After a two day trial and 3 hour deliberations, the jury found the defendant was negligent and that its negligence caused the plaintiff to suffer injuries. Eubanks was awarded $100,000. Share this post :
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