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Club Vinyl lawsuit: Can venues be held liable for the actions of their bouncers?

Categories: Business, News

janny barizonte.jpg
Barizonte.
Six years ago, Janny Barizonte, a 24-year-old law student, headed with friends to Club Vinyl looking for fun. What she got instead changed her life, and not for the better: a painful altercation with club security personnel, followed by an arrest, a violent assault by a sheriff's deputy, a criminal trial -- and finally, a costly civil suit that demonstrates how difficult it can be to hold Colorado nightclub operators accountable for the actions of security teams that bill themselves as independent contractors.

Barizonte and a female friend were arrested and charged with assaulting Darryl Honor and Malia Calip, who worked for a security company called LDH Protective Services. Acquitted at trial of all charges, Barizonte eventually persuaded a Denver jury to award more than $60,000 in damages in her favor against Honor and Calip for the injuries she suffered that night.

club vinyl google maps.jpg
The outside of Vinyl.
But that judgment may be uncollectable, her lawyer says, because LDH has no insurance -- and Denver District Judge Sheila Rappaport ruled that Vinyl can't be held liable for Honor's and Calip's actions. Rappaport also ordered Barizonte to pay Vinyl's parent company more than $27,000 in attorney fees and costs, after first denying that request.

The trial outcome was recently upheld by a three-judge panel from the Colorado Court of Appeals, which declined to address a central question of Barizonte's appeal -- whether Rappaport erred in ruling that Honor and Calip were independent contractors.

"I was absolutely stunned by the opinion," says Ron Beeks, Barizonte's attorney. "This allows a club to hire bouncers without investigating them -- and not even require them to have insurance. It allows the club to walk away from any assaults they may commit and leaves the plaintiff with a worthless judgment against the bouncers."

The Cuban-born Barizonte was in her first year of law school at the University of Denver when she visited Vinyl on a Halloween weekend in 2007 -- and began her real education in American criminal and tort law. She was accompanied by her boyfriend, an Air Force Academy cadet, and two female friends. She says she was in the club less than half an hour and had consumed only one beer when the trouble began.

Continue for more about the Vinyl lawsuit.


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Club Vinyl

1082 Broadway, Denver, CO

Category: Music


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69 comments
Evan James
Evan James

not if the bouncers doing his job to control a drunk asshole bout to start shit. and if he hits the bouncer he has all means to knock his ass out where he stands and wait for police.

Patricia Sparrow
Patricia Sparrow

Funny thing is I go to another SoCo club every weekend and I cannot imagine the staff ever behaving in that manner and then I realized those "thugs" were not staff they were external security hired by the club. So perhaps the company that initially hired these guys should look at their hiring practices?

Mike Milos
Mike Milos

I would certainly hope the club would be liable for their door thugs.

ryanjohnsmith1013
ryanjohnsmith1013

Missing video tapes. How convenient.

If a bartender can be held liable for overserving then these testosterone fueled MMA wannabee meatheads should be as well.

Talk about getting a lesson in law.

Chrissy Anderson
Chrissy Anderson

I've actually found that is quite a big issue around Denver. Denver requires guards to obtain a merchant guard card license which also requires you to be employed through a company which meets all of their requirements. A lot of individuals/business are not following the 'rules' just to save money and things like this happen. Businesses need to check on the company they're hiring to make sure they are validated properly. Anyone can say they're a security guard however only a few actually have all the requirements needed to work in Denver. Other cities don't require the Merchant Guard card either. Owners of businesses need to be aware of the situation!!

Chrissy Anderson
Chrissy Anderson

Exactly. It's very irresponsible to either operate a security business with no insurance &/or hire one that is not insured!

Slo Pain
Slo Pain

It's a bit ridiculous a venue owner should be liable of their guards to the point to ensure they have the proper insurance.

Chrissy Anderson
Chrissy Anderson

I wonder if those guards had Merchant Guard Card Licenses for Denver. You shouldn't be able to get a license through Denver if you have violent charges like that?!?!?

Chrissy Anderson
Chrissy Anderson

That is so irritating ... companies shouldn't be allowed to hire 'indepent contractors' that aren't insured... and if they do they should be liable for the situtation that occured!! I can't believe that happened ... I feel bad for that girl! :'(

domgess
domgess

I hope Vinyl pulls all their advertising from Westword for this badly researched hit piece.  First of all the state of Colorado does the background checks and issues merchant guard licenses so your title should be "Can the state of Colorado be held liable for the actions of their merchant guard licensing program?" But not a clean cut eye-catching internet title to create a mock controversy.  The judge found the venue, not guilty because the judge understands facts.  Something missing from your smear campaign.

Slo Pain
Slo Pain

Chrissy Anderson check this out

RandallE
RandallE

Related topic: What about people that need to be ejected from a club? I've seen clear cases where the customer was violent, throwing punches, not leaving when asked (girls too) and requiring more than one security person to get them out for the safety of everyone else. I don't know what happens in these people. They snap. I've seen it more than once. Patrons, drinking or not, need to adhere to not just rules of the venue, but just common life decency guidelines and values. There are reasons you can't dance on tables, start fights in clubs or whatever. I've never been restrained by police or private security because I play by the rules. I can't think of any reason why not just one or multiple security would ever need to be involved in an issue unless the customer was unruly and not cooperating. Few people in their thread support the notion of personal accountability for anyone starting trouble in a venue. Personally, I'm thankful for security throwing-out people that start trouble. Everyone is safer as a result. 

Megan Mulligan
Megan Mulligan

Yes. If they had a criminal background check, and hired people with known violence issues, they should be prepared for consequences - especially if they do not have insurance. I have never been there, and now will absolutely never go, nor recommend it to anyone - and ensure they know about this very story.

Becca Feiner
Becca Feiner

Yes - and agreed with Megan Wakeman that if they are hired as independent contractors the club is either responsible for verifying their insurance or takes liability.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

I 'bounce' all the time ....


DamnedAnimals
DamnedAnimals

Back in the day when I tended bar for one of the bars in this group that was normal bouncer behavior. Contractor or not the normal individual hired for this position was a coked-out savage that did not give a shit about "safety" their primary interest was more about "fucking dudes up" and the methodologies involved in doing so.

John Twigg
John Twigg

Absolutely. The bounce ris acting as an agent of the club.

Jimmy Coitus
Jimmy Coitus

Absolutely, especially if they insist on using no neck troglodytes that are incapable of producing an original thought as security personnel. If you employ dangerous morons you need to be prepared for the day that they do something dangerously moronic.

Legen Dairy
Legen Dairy

Yes they should be, held totally liable.

Kris Koenig
Kris Koenig

Unbelievable... Vinyl has found a loophole in the system. They should absolutely be held accountable since they hired him to bounce at their club. The fact that he works for another vendor is irrelevant to me.

Megan Wakeman
Megan Wakeman

Also, if independent contractors want to be hired to work as a bouncer they need to be required to have insurance, for reasons exactly like this.

John Quincy
John Quincy

Vinyl is notorious for hyper-aggressive bouncers i think they should finally be held accountable for the rough neck assholes they choose to contract.

John S. Schafluetzel
John S. Schafluetzel

Yes. They represent the venue and not only act under, but are ultimately responsible for enforcing its authority.

Sumibraxis Dei
Sumibraxis Dei

NO! bouncers should be fired. However, IF the bouncers actions lead to a sexual offense with or without intent/knowing, the bouncer/security should be held just as guilty as the 'offender' for not checking ID.

jessicatoth
jessicatoth

Uh, is this a real question? Of course the club should be held responsible for anything ANY of their employees do! If they can't handle the responsibility, close that shitty place down!

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@RandallE Interesting post, Randall. We're going to feature it as an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

domgess
domgess

@Megan Mulligan Go back to your knitting circle if you don't want to come out to a club

domgess
domgess

@Becca Feiner You can't even read

domgess
domgess

@Patrick Raspberry Try reading the whole article

domgess
domgess

@John Twigg The bouncer is acting on behalf of the safety of the patrons

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Jimmy Coitus ... so the U$ Government should be entirely responsible for the Homicide, Torture and other War Crimes committed by Blackwater, Haliburton and other Mercenary "Contractors" ?


michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Alan Gwaltney You're not alone, Alan. Thanks for the post.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@jessicatoth ... Reading Comprehension is your friend --

... the Bouncers were employed by an Independent Contractor, not the club directly.

Like when the Pentagon / CIA uses independent Contract Mercenary Killers -- like Blackwater -- so they can deny any direct responsibility for the war crimes committed under their operations.



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