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

Categories: Business, News

club vinyl.JPG
Club Vinyl.
By that point, Barizonte had done plenty of research on her accusers. She discovered that Honor had been sued over two other alleged assaults on patrons at nightclubs where he provided security; he was accused of breaking a man's jaw outside the Funky Buddha and inflicting a closed head injury and "multiple contusions and facial lacerations" on a customer at the 2 a.m. after-hours club. (One plaintiff received a cash settlement before trial, the other obtained a judgment against Honor.)

And Honor and Calip had both faced domestic violence complaints in the past -- against each other. A 2001 complaint by Calip seeking a restraining order against Honor claimed that he pushed her, pulled her hair, shoved her, chased her with his car and spat at her; the restraining order was later lifted at Calip's request. In a letter to an Adams County judge, Honor claimed to be the victim of Calip's "uncontrollable fits of rage" and "increased physical aggression."

"She has called me after going out to the club and spoke to me about fights she got into with other girls for little or nothing," Honor added.

Suarez and Barizonte sued Honor, Calip, LDH and Vinyl for assault, false arrest, malicious prosecution and other claims. Suarez, who lives in another state, settled her case before trial. Barizonte declined a $20,000 settlement offer because, she says, her damages -- including medical bills for knee and back injuries and therapy for the psychological trauma of the incident, as well as being forced to leave law school as her grades spiraled downward -- were much greater.

But Judge Rappaport ruled that Barizonte couldn't introduce the domestic violence case or the rest of Honor's criminal record, which includes a 1995 conviction for disturbing the peace, a 1996 deferred judgment in a theft case, and an indecent exposure conviction dating back to 1985. Vinyl's attorneys argued that Honor's other encounters with the legal system were irrelevant and prejudicial, and that the company had no obligation to do a background check on Honor because the city does its own vetting in issuing merchant guard licenses. (In a court document, Honor states that he provided information concerning his criminal history to Vinyl before the club hired his company.)

"I can understand how a jury could be really confused about what happened because they didn't get to hear all the evidence," Barizonte says.

The verdict was a split decision. While Barizonte prevailed on assault and battery claims against Honor and Calip and was awarded more than $60,000 in damages and interest, the jury also found in favor of Calip on a counterclaim that Barizonte had assaulted her, assessing an award of roughly $5,300. And Barizonte, who now teaches high school Spanish, was ordered to pay Vinyl's legal fees.

"I think it's outrageous that they can hide behind this veil of independent contractors and avoid liability, when they don't even require them to have insurance," Barizonte says. "I don't think there was anything I could have done to prevent this from happening. You can go into an establishment and get beat up by people who work there and have no remedy for your damages."

Beeks has petitioned the Court of Appeals to reconsider Barizonte's claims against Club Vinyl. An attorney for club ownership didn't respond to a request to comment on the case or clarify whether LDH continues to provide security services for Vinyl and related operations.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Tyler Gregorak: Case dropped against former CU Buff and Shmuck of the Week."


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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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