Thirsty’s suit alleges at least $75,000 in damagesA conservator for a man injured at a Mitchell bar in September alleges that the incident has resulted in more than $75,000 in damages.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
A conservator for a man injured at a Mitchell bar in September alleges that the incident has resulted in more than $75,000 in damages.
Vicki Hubner, mother of and appointed conservator for Clint Dreyer, 36, who was severely beaten at Thirsty’s Bar, filed the lawsuit Monday. She is suing V.V. Inc., the parent company of Thirsty’s, which is owned by Doug Aslesen, and she has demanded a jury trial, according to court documents.
The case is filed in federal court because Dreyer is a resident of Fargo, N.D., but was in South Dakota for his job, which requires travel, according to Russell Janklow, a Sioux Falls-based attorney for Hubner. The damages in the case amount to more than $75,000, which constitutes another factor for filing the case in federal court, he said, explaining that the amount is the threshold for federal cases.
The lawsuit alleges four counts of negligence against Thirsty’s, including that the owner had a duty to control the conduct of manager Thomas Somerville and bar employee William Watkins.
Watkins pleaded guilty Dec. 12 to aggravated assault, which is a felony carrying a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, a $30,000 fine or both. He was originally set for a jury trial in February.
Somerville is charged with simple assault and is scheduled for jury trial in February in Davison County.
The lawsuit further alleges bar owner Aslesen didn’t provide protection for Dreyer against assaults by employees, should have known his employees had a tendency for physical violence, and that the company is responsible for Dreyer’s injuries.
The lawsuit states Aslesen knew of Watkins’ previous dangerous behavior and altercations, which created foreseeable situations, according to the lawsuit.
On Sept. 30, Dreyer was staying overnight in Mitchell with co-workers, who accompanied Dreyer to Thirsty’s Bar. The lawsuit states bar manager Somerville “grabbed Dreyer by his face and neck, and pushed Dreyer backwards onto the floor.”
Allegedly, Watkins also approached the situation, asked if Dreyer had hit Somerville, which Somerville indicated had occurred.
The lawsuit states Dreyer did not hit Somerville.
Shortly before Dreyer left the bar, Watkins allegedly became aggressive toward Dreyer. He followed Dreyer outside the building while shouting, and Somerville made no attempt to stop Watkins. No other employees made any attempt to stop Watkins either, according to court documents.
The lawsuit states Dreyer did not provoke Watkins’ actions, which included punching Dreyer in the back of the head, rendering him semi-unconscious and bleeding.
Dreyer has remained in Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls since the incident, which caused severe and permanent brain damage, skull fractures and loss of quality of life, according to court documents.
Janklow expects bar owner Aslesen will be served with papers regarding the lawsuit this week.