Dell & Schaefer wins $208,000 verdict for clients injured by bouncers at South Florida’s largest strip club
Author: Attorney Jason Macri
In the early morning hours of January 18th, 2009, two men were unlawfully beaten by bouncers at South Florida’s largest strip club. One of the men was celebrating his birthday with his wife, family members and friends, and had been at the club for several hours before being pushed by a club bouncer who was making his way through a crowd of customers. When the man turned around to see who pushed him, a club bouncer, dressed in all black with an earpiece and shoulder radio, was standing about a foot away staring back at the man and calling into his radio for additional bouncers. Within a matter of seconds, several other bouncers converged on the scene and placed the man into a headlock. They started choking the man by his gold chain, causing the man to be knocked unconscious. The man’s cousin, who was nearby, witnessed the incident and tried to stop the bouncers from choking his cousin. The cousin was then apprehended by bouncers who began to choke him as well.
With both men in choke holds, the bouncers then proceeded to drag the men through the club to a back room. On the way to the back room, strip club bouncers began to physically beat the birthday boy, shattering his leg and again knocking him unconscious. Once they reached the back room, they threw the battered man into a roller chair and began to splash water in his face until he regained consciousness. Once he regained consciousness, the bouncers rolled the man, in his chair, through the back room until they reached the back door. Once they reached the back door, they ejected the man from his seat, out the back door and into an alley behind the club, right next to the trash dumpster.
The man’s wife frantically called 911. An ambulance arrived on scene and picked the man up from the spot where club employees dumped him; Right next to the trash dumpster. Emergency response technicians were able to resuscitate the man and stabilize him before rushing the man to the local hospital. X-rays of his leg were taken at the hospital, revealing a leg that had been fractured in several places. The leg required a serious surgery which secured the pieces of the man’s leg with metal plates and screws.
Police were already on the scene of the beating at the time because they were being paid by the strip club to secure the parking lot. Needless to say, police conducted no investigation whatsoever. They never entered the strip club nor did they attempt to interview any witnesses. They merely took one look at our passed-out client, assumed he was drunk, and wrote a report claiming that he attacked the bouncers and then somehow became unconscious in the attack. They wrote in their report that our client was extremely intoxicated, even though police conducted no intoxication investigation whatsoever. It was an open and shut case for the cops and no further police action was taken whatsoever.
The man and his cousin hired The Law Office of Dell & Schaefer to represent him for this strip club beating. Attorney Jason Macri conducted a thorough investigation of the incident, taking the deposition of over ten defendant employees. All employees denied any wrongdoing of course. They also denied capturing any of the beating on surveillance footage, even though it was revealed that the club had over 20 cameras within the premises. Somehow the beating, which was in full view of several cameras within the premises, had not been recorded. The only footage that was provided was from the back room where our client was wheeled around in a desk chair by club employees. They argued he was too intoxicated to stand. They never admitted to shattering his leg.
The strip club had liability insurance coverage through a company called Indemnity Insurance Corporation. The insurance company has since gone bankrupt due to bad business practices. At mediation, Jeff Cohen, the owner of the insurance company himself, showed up in place of the assigned adjuster. Mr. Cohen proceeded to offer our clients $1.75 and .50 to settle their cases. That is not a typo; he offered a dollar and seventy five cents for our client with the shattered leg and fifty cents for our client who had been choked. Needless to say, the case was not resolved at mediation.
Our trial lawyers took this case to trial before a Miami-Dade county jury. It was clear that members of the jury were not pleased with the actions of the strip club bouncers. The jury did not buy the arguments made by the Defense that our clients were extremely intoxicated and attempted to attack the club bouncers. They also rejected the argument that the bouncers had no idea how our client’s leg became shattered. They appeared to be making the “immaculate fracture” defense; arguing that our client walked into the club on his own recognizance but then somehow, unbeknownst to them, left the club with a shattered leg.
The Jury awarded our clients over $200,000 in damages. The defense immediately requested a new trial and when that request was denied, they filed an appeal. The defense posted a bond in the amount of the judgment, plus fees and costs. Shortly thereafter, Indemnity Insurance Corporation went bankrupt. Luckily the bond was held in place by a surety company.
Miami’s 3rd District Court of Appeals heard the Defendant’s appeal and summarily denied it. The Court, Per Curiam, affirmed the judgment of the lower Court and the verdict rendered by the jury. The Defense continued their attempts to get out of paying this verdict however, arguing that because the insurance company had gone bankrupt, the matter should be stayed and the company should not be forced to pay our clients. Every Court that was involved in this matter disagreed, eventually ordering that the defense pay our clients.
It was a hard fought battle but our lawyers never gave up. It took approximately 5 years and 4 months from the date of the incident before our clients were able to get paid. Our lawyers spent hundreds of hours working on this case and spent many a sleepless night battling the irresponsible companies involved in this case. The end result was sweet however, as our lawyers were able to go from an offer of $1.75 and .50 to over $200,000.00 by ensuring that this matter went before a jury. This is one example of how our legal system can help people who are wrongly and negligently injured seek justice.