A Kansas City Missouri bar, PBR Big Sky Cowboy Bar in the Kansas City Power & Light District, was found to be negligent in its supervision and training of its bouncers after an incident with bar patrons that ended with two people suffering personal injuries.
Travis Ehlers and Megan Kirchner went to PBR in June of 2008, when two of their friends, who were intoxicated, began throwing ice in the bar. PBR’s security approached the group, when Kirchner and a female security staff member began engaging in a verbal dispute. Thereafter, another member of PBR’s security allegedly dragged Kirchner out of the bar by her neck. Ehlers, after trying to get the security guards to release Kirchner, was himself allegedly held to the ground, where he suffered a bloody contusion that required medical treatment.
Ehlers was awarded $75,000 by the jury, and Kirchner was awarded $250,000. The jury did not award punitive damages. The jury did find that Ehlers and Kirchner were partially to blame for this incident, finding them both 10% at fault. Plaintiff’s counsel’s last demand for settlement before trial was $30,000 for each plaintiff.
The jury’s award sent a message that security guards do not have an unfettered ability to batter patrons of the establishments where they work, even if they are carrying out their duties as bouncers. In this situation, both plaintiffs had allegedly been drinking and were engaging in verbal disputes with the bouncers, and even then only suffered minor personal injuries, totaling $345 for Kirchner and $1,183 for Ehlers. However, despite this low total of special damages, the jury awarded $325,000 in damages to the plaintiffs.