Bar Fights

Robert Edwards Aug. 15, 2012

It seems that about once every three or four months I get a call from someone who has been in a bar fight and they want to sue the other person. These are usually bad cases for the following reasons:

1. Rarely is the loser totally innocent. There is usually some contributory fault on the part of both parties.

2. People who get drunk and get in fights in bars generally do not have anything in the way of assets. This is important because;

3. There is no insurance coverage for intentionally inflicted injuries in 99.9% of the cases.

Therefore, the problems with these cases make them very unattractive if the lawyer is working on a contingency fee basis, i.e., just getting a percentage of what is collected from the defendant. Because the defendant usually does not have anything in the way of assets, and because there is no insurance coverage, usually there is no money ever collected. One third of nothing is still nothing.

There are good cases, they are just few and far between. The only good one of these I ever had was many years ago when my client and another individual got in an argument in a bar in downtown Minneapolis. The bouncers decided to eject both of them from the bar. They pushed the defendant out the front door and then moments later, pushed my client out the front door. As they were pushing him out the front door they told him: "Watch out, he carries a knife." Sure enough, almost as soon as my client got out the front door he was stabbed by the defendant. It turned out that the defendant was notoriously violent and the bouncers knew it. We sued the bar and argued that they should have either sent my client out first and warned him then, or call the police and had the defendant arrested or at least detained so that my client could get away safely. You will note that we did not bother suing the defendant, for the reasons above.