Jury awards bar patrons $30K

by Walter Pierce

A civil jury in Lafayette has awarded two men, one of whom was severely beaten by bouncers outside a downtown night club, more than $30,000 in damages.

A civil jury in Lafayette has awarded two men, one of whom was severely beaten by bouncers outside a downtown night club, more than $30,000 in damages.

The suit on behalf of Richard Le and Edward Prince was filed in June 2007 in 15th Judicial District Court in Lafayette by attorney Derriel McCorvey seeking damages for injuries his clients received during an altercation with Nitetown bouncers the previous October. Le suffered the worst of the injuries; photos submitted for evidence in the trial last week show him in a hospital room with a black eye, a laceration to the side of his face, and a blood-stippled shirt.

Le was awarded more than $30,000 by the jury; Edward Prince, who, according was McCorvey, was roughed up by the bouncers when he tried to intervene on behalf of his friend, was awarded $1,800. The incident happened in an enclosed alley off Buchanan Street behind the Jefferson Street venue, which has a rear door that opens onto to the alley. The jury found that Nitetown was responsible for the actions of its employees. The jury also found that Le was negligent in the case - that his behavior contributed to the altercation. Yet it still awarded him compensatory (to cover medical bills), mental anguish and special damages.

The club's bouncers have been accused in other lawsuits of using excessive force against patrons; at least three civil suits filed in the 15th JDC have targeted Nitetown for the actions of its bouncers. None, however, has evidently gone to trial. Part of McCorvey's strategy going into the trial was to make the jury aware of those prior lawsuits. "We were going to use them as ammo to show a pattern," he says. But Judge Herman Clause ruled the prior suits would have prejudiced the jury and barred their admission into evidence.

McCorvey says the suit wasn't as much about the money as it was about issuing a "wake up call" concerning the behavior of security staff at night clubs. "That foolishness where two guys go out to have some fun and get beat," the attorney says, "we've got to get the word out about that."

The attorney for Nitetown could not be reached for comment. However, Nitetown owner George Favaloro released a statement Friday afternoon defending his business:

Nitetown is proud of having relatively few issues since it opened its doors seven years ago. This incident happened four years ago. The jury properly found the plaintiff's own fault contributed to the incident. Nitetown plans to appeal the verdict.

Nitetown suspended the employees involved and never allowed them to return to work. Again, the bouncers in question no longer work at Nitetown.

The owners, staff and management of Nitetown are very sorry for this incident. We have been working closely with Chief Jim Craft and the Lafayette Police Department to institute a "bouncer training program" to aid in properly training security personal when it comes to unruly customers.