Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Albany family files lawsuit in 2017 nightclub death

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - An Albany family has filed a lawsuit claiming police refused to protect their son moments before he was shot and killed.
Travion Jones’ family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Albany and city commissioners, the Albany Police Department (APD) and individual officers and the owners of the Sand Trap Nightclub, where Jones died.

Investigators said the incident happened in the club parking lot on Radium Springs Road in October 2017. Nine men have been arrested and indicted in connection with Jones’ death.

The lawsuit states Jones was involved in a large fight in the nightclub and then was told he wouldn’t leave the parking lot alive.

The lawsuit also states Jones asked two uniformed APD officers, working as security for the nightclub, to escort him to his car because of the threat.

The two officers refused him protection, and minutes later, Jones was shot and killed by his car, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit claims that the nightclub has been known to be a safety and welfare risk, and that police and city commissioners should have closed it before Jones’ death.

The lawsuit doesn’t cite what damages the family is seeking.

SandTrap Owner Gilbert Udoto said he had no knowledge of the lawsuit, and had no comment.

City Attorney Nathan Davis told WALB that the City of Albany denied any responsibility or liability in March, and have not seen the lawsuit.


Monday, March 25, 2019

Parents Sue Four Seasons, Bartender After Daughter Dies With 0.5 Blood Alcohol

When she died alone in her hotel room after her father’s birthday party, Autumn Rupkey’s blood alcohol level was nearly 0.5—more than five times the legal limit in Texas.

“I have never seen a case with a blood alcohol level this high,” said plaintiffs lawyer Quentin Brogdon, who’s handled civil dram shop cases for 30 years and prosecuted drunken-driving cases for two years. “It’s amazing she was even walking around at the end.”

And now Rupkey’s parents, Kevin and Pam Rupkey, allege in the lawsuit that the resort that hosted the birthday party, the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas, and the bartender who served their daughter, who was 29, broke the law by serving her an excessive amount of alcohol. They filed their original petition in Rupkey v. Ex Dallas LLC in Dallas County’s 193rd Civil District Court on March 21.

Brogdon, a partner at Crain Lewis Brogdon in Dallas, explained that most people black out when their blood alcohol reaches 0.2, lose consciousness at 0.3, and start dying at 0.4. Autumn Rupkey might have had heightened alcohol tolerance, but there’s no defense under the law to have overserved her by that much, he said.

“It appears she would have had to have had something in the neighborhood of 17 alcoholic drinks,” Brogdon said.

The Rupkeys are suing Ex Dallas, which does business as the Four Seasons, and Martin Mora, who is a Four Seasons bartender.

The complaint said the defendants had a duty to monitor and limit the amount of alcohol they served to guests, and ensure they did not overserve. Instead, it claimed they overserved Autumn Rupkey to the point she fell down and had to be taken to her room, where she died later. The defendants should have known she was so intoxicated she was a danger to herself and others, the plaintiffs claimed, adding that these actions amounted to negligence and violated the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code.

“The Saturday evening of the party was supposed to be a dream come true for the Rupkey family—a celebratory evening with close family and friends that would be cherished forever. Instead, defendants’ overservice of a lethal amount of alcohol to Autumn Rupkey turned the evening into a nightmare,” said the complaint, noting that from that day, Kevin Rupkey’s birthday would also be the anniversary of his daughter’s death.

The Rupkeys are suing for dram shop and negligence. They’re seeking to recover damages for Autumn Rupkey’s mental anguish and physical pain before her death, wrongful death damages for Kevin and Pam Rupkey losing their daughter, exemplary damages against the Four Seasons defendants, costs and pre- and post-judgment interest.

Four Seasons spokeswoman Vail Tolbert emailed a statement saying the hotel sent its deepest sympathies to the Rupkey family for their daughter’s tragic loss.

“This matter was thoroughly investigated by the Irving Police Department who in consultation with the Dallas District Attorney’s Office, determined there was no wrongdoing on the part of the Four Seasons,” the hotel said in the statement.

According to a article, hotel staff told police they stopped serving Autumn Rupkey when she showed signs of intoxication.

A telephone number listed in public records for Mora, the bartender, was disconnected.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Lawsuit claims West Ashley bar over-served customer who caused serious accident

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A West Ashley bar is being sued by a Berkeley County woman who claims they over-served a customer who crashed into her car, seriously injuring her.

Meagan Smalls filed the suit against the Charleston Sports Pub last Thursday. It’s regarding an incident that happened in March 2016.

According to the suit, the customer was served beer and several rounds of liquor shots.

The suit says states Christopher Smith was extremely intoxicated and still allowed to drive.

According to the suit, the bartenders at the Charleston Sports Pub on Sam Rittenberg Boulevard should have known that Smith was intoxicated.

The suit states after leaving the bar Smith drove through a construction site on the Wando Bridge on Highway 41. He apparently disregarded a flag man and crashed into a car driven by Smalls.

The suit states Smalls had to be cut out of her car and was taken to the hospital. Her attorney says Smalls had to have several surgeries.According to the suit, Smith wound up pleading guilty to felony DUI with great bodily injury.

Smalls is asking for a jury trial and wants the sports pub to pay for damages.

Perry Freeman, who owns the sports pub, declined to comment on the lawsuit.


3 weeks after teen killed in Beaufort County boat crash, mother sues bar and others

A family member of the teen who was killed in the Feb. 24 boat crash near Parris Island filed a wrongful death lawsuit Wednesday against a bar and a convenience store, as well as the hosts of a party in Beaufort where all six boaters are said to have been earlier that night.

Renee Beach, the mother of Mallory Beach, 19, is suing Luther’s on Bay Street in Beaufort, Parker’s 55 convenience store in Ridgeland and homeowners Kristy and James Wood, alleging all three provided or sold alcoholic beverages to the boaters, who were between the ages of 18 and 20.

“The parents hope that this lawsuit shines a light on the significant dangers posed by the sale or service of alcohol to minors,” Beach’s attorney, Mark Tinsley of the Gooding and Gooding law firm, said, “as well as the dangers of providing children with a place to illegally consume alcohol to the point of intoxication and then let them drive.”

A woman answering the phone at Luther’s Rare & Well Done said employees have been told not to comment on the boat crash. She also refused to transfer a reporter with The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette to a manager.

Greg Parker, founder and CEO of Parker’s 55 issued a statement Thursday, writing that his company takes “the responsibility of selling alcohol very seriously” including “strict policies and procedures ... to make sure we sell alcohol only to individuals who have proof that they are of legal drinking age. Every member of the Parker’s team undergoes alcohol training, and we regularly send mystery shoppers to our stores to make sure team members are carding customers who purchase alcohol.”

The lawsuit alleges that on Feb. 23, Parker’s 55 unlawfully sold alcoholic beverages to a person under 21 who then shared those beverages with others under 21. None of the boaters besides Mallory Beach are named in the lawsuit.

Later that day, the same group of people under 21 went to a party at the Woods’ home in Beaufort, where they were served alcoholic beverages, according to the lawsuit.

“The Woods knew or should reasonably have known these people were between the ages of 18 and 20” and they then let them “operate a boat with their faculties and judgment grossly and dangerously impaired,” the lawsuit reads.

After they left the Woods’ house, the group drove a boat to Luther’s, where two of them were served “alcohol, despite their being underage and intoxicated ...,” the lawsuit states.

It was after leaving Luther’s that one of the boaters crashed the boat into the Archer’s Creek bridge, ejecting Mallory Beach from the boat, causing her death, the lawsuit says.

The boat crashed into a piling of a small bridge around 2:20 a.m. just outside the main entrance to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

Because the bridge spans a stretch of water about 40 yards wide, boats must slow down to thread their way between the pilings.

Beach was missing for a week before her body was found March 3 in a marsh about 5 miles from where the crash occurred. She died from drowning and trauma, according to the Beaufort County coroner.

The remaining five boaters appeared to be “grossly intoxicated,” according to a Port Royal Police Department report. All five were also injured in the crash, a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report said.

S.C. Department of Natural Resources are investigating the incident but, as of yet, have not brought charges

Law enforcement did not give sobriety tests to occupants of the boat because a driver had not been identified and two suspected drivers had attorneys soon after the crash, SCDNR spokesman Capt. Robert McCullough has previously said.

SCDNR has yet to speak to the two suspected drivers, he said Wednesday.

The boat crashed “at a high rate of speed,” according to first-responders speaking to dispatchers in 911 audio.

Lawsuits that allege establishments have a duty to make sure patrons who become intoxicated don’t leave the premises and endanger themselves or others are called “dram shop” lawsuits.

In recent years in South Carolina, dram shop lawsuits have forced bars to pay millions of dollars to the estates of people who have died after being struck by a person who left the bar in an intoxicated condition. Most dram shop lawsuits, however, involve cars or motorcycles — not boats.

Tinsley said law enforcement has been keeping the family informed of its investigation.

“They have done an exceptional job in gathering the evidence, nearly all of which has not been made known to the public,” he said.

The 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone has requested the case be assigned to another solicitor’s office or the state Attorney General’s Office because three of the boat’s occupants are related to employees of Stone’s office. This includes employee, Randolph Murdaugh III, a former 14th Circuit Solicitor, who continues to work under contract for the office, trying criminal cases.

The boat, a 17-foot center console, is registered to Alexander Murdaugh, according to SCDNR

A prosecuting agency has yet to be assigned to the case, McCullough said this week.

Beach has been described by family and friends as always having a smile, being kind and a lover of animals.


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Nightclub denies liability in suit alleging wrong-way driver caused fatal collision

Pop’s Nightclub denies liability in a Dram Shop suit alleging a woman died when an intoxicated wrong-way driver caused a collision on I-64.

Duyen Xin, individually and as special administrator of the estate of Lyn Chieng, deceased, and Vuong Xin filed the complaint on Jan. 8 against Miss Kitty’s Inc. and Mega Leasing Corp Inc., doing business as Pop’s Nightclub, alleging they violated the Dram Shop Act.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs allege that on Jan. 21, 2018, Lyn Chieng was driving her vehicle westbound on I-64 in St. Clair County just after 7 a.m. when motorist Brandon Bell caused a head-on collision. Bell was allegedly intoxicated and driving the wrong way when he caused the fatal crash. Chieng died as a result of her injuries.

The plaintiffs allege the defendants unlawfully sold or gave alcoholic beverages to Bell, causing him to become intoxicated.


Pop’s Nightclub answered the complaint on Feb. 15 through attorney Michael Constance of Joley Oliver & Beasley PC in Belleville.

The defendant denies liability and asks the court to dismiss the complaint with prejudice. The defendant also “denies that said plaintiffs are entitled to judgment for any sum whatsoever.”

In its affirmative defense, Pop’s Nightclub argues that it is entitled to a set off of $100,000 against any award paid by Bell as well as any money recovered against Ball Park Village, “which is sued in Missouri for the same incident.”

The plaintiffs seek a judgment in excess of $50,000, plus costs.

They are represented by John T. Hipskind and Brady McAninch of Hipskind & McAninch LLC in Belleville.


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Nectar’s argues it should not be held responsible for shooting

BURLINGTON, VT — After a shooting outside of the bar last year, Nectar’s is planning to defend itself in front of state liquor authorities by arguing that the bar should not be held responsible for the shooting.

Nectar’s was scheduled to appear before the state Liquor and Lottery Control Board Wednesday, and faces the suspension or revocation of its liquor license. But the board granted a request from Nectar’s to postpone the hearing, which is now scheduled for May 8.

In its motion to postpone the hearing, Nectar’s attorney, Sandra Strempel, questioned assertions from the state Division of Liquor Control that the bar’s staff should have called police instead of taking possession of the alleged shooter’s firearm and returning it to him.

Strempel wrote that it is not unlawful to carry a gun into a bar, and that the bar does not have the authority to take and keep property from customers.

The alleged shooter, Rashad Nashid, is facing state and federal charges over the Feb. 26, 2018, shooting which seriously injured a bystander, Chelsi Parker.

Police say Nashid gave the gun used in the shooting to a Nectar’s bouncer after Nashid got into an altercation with two men — Dennis and Carl Martin — inside the bar. The bouncer returned the gun to Nashid as Nashid prepared to leave the bar.

Later that night, Nashid opened fire after confronting the Martin brothers outside the bar.

Parker was hospitalized at the University of Vermont Medical Center for three weeks after being shot in the lung, and has filed a civil suit against Nectar’s seeking damages.

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The motion to continue the hearing, obtained by VTDigger, offers Nectar’s side of the story publicly for the first time.

Strempel argues that the altercation between Nashid and the Martin brothers “was not caused or related to excessive (or any) alcohol use.”

“Rather the witnesses confirmed that the incident was a result of a pre-existing conflict between Mr. Rashid and the Martins relating to the former’s girlfriend,” Strempel writes. “In other words, there is no nexus between the ‘altercation’ and excessive use of alcohol.”

The DLC is alleging that Nectar’s violated a state regulation requiring licensed institutions to control the conduct of individuals in their establishments and to ensure the safety of its patrons.

“No licensee shall permit or suffer any disturbances, brawls, fighting or illegal activity upon the licensed premises; nor shall a licensee permit or suffer such premises to be conducted in a manner as to render such premises or the streets, sidewalks, parking lots or highways adjacent thereto a public nuisance,” the regulation states.

Rashad Nashid at his arraignment in October. Pool photo by Elizabeth Murray/Burlington Free Press

The DLC did not release the document explaining its case against Nectar’s, saying it is an investigative work product on a pending case.

But according to Nectar’s motion, which was released by the DLC, the basis for the charge is that a manager became aware of the altercation between Nashid and Dennis Martin inside the bar and should have called police instead of taking possession of Nashid’s firearm and returning it to him.

Strempel writes that the DLC does not allege that Nectar’s should have anticipated that the altercation would have taken place, and that the DLC notes that no further altercations took place inside of the bar.

“There is also no allegation that an alcohol violation took place,” Strempel writes. “In fact, the DLC does not allege, and the report does not state, that Mr. Nashid was served any alcohol while at Nectar’s.”

In asking for the delay, Strempel writes that Nectar’s had asked for, but not received, responses to discovery requests and an inquiry about whether settlement was possible.

Nectar’s had asked for, but not received, an interview of Andrew Myers, a Nectar’s employee.

“His statement is critical to Nectar’s defense because the police affidavit indicates that Mr. Myers recalled serving Nashid a sprite and a hamburger on the evening at issue and he did not see him consume any alcohol at Nectar’s,” Strempel writes.

Nectar’s also had asked for, but not received, any evidence the DLC had relating to the furnishing and consumption of alcohol by Nashid and the Martin brothers on the night of the shooting.

“This evidence, or lack thereof, is very important because Nectar’s has reason to believe that these individuals may have consumed alcohol at a different licensed establishment after they departed Nectar’s,” Strempel writes.

According to the police affidavit in Nashid’s criminal case, Nashid went to Esox, a neighboring bar, after leaving Nectar’s. Esox did not respond to a call requesting comment Wednesday.

Police said that Nashid was intoxicated when he was taken into custody.

While the police affidavit in Nashid’s state-level case notes that Nectar’s bouncer, Jamael Regular, told them that Nashid returned to Nectar’s at one point in the night to “finish a drink,” it’s unclear if it was an alcoholic drink.

Strempel wrote that are many legal and factual issues at play in the case.

“Since it is not unlawful for patrons to carry firearms in licensed facilities, there is no allegation or evidence that a firearm was aimed or pointed at another, and the DLC has not promulgated any regulations relating to weapons or circumstances when a licensed facility is required to contact the police, the facts will be critical in determining whether or not Nectar’s violated General Regulation #36,” she wrote.

However, Dennis Martin told police that Nashid had pulled a gun on him inside of the club during their initial altercation.

Regular, the bouncer who took and returned Nashid’s gun, was told by another patron that two people were flashing guns at each other, according to the police affidavit.

A sign on the door to Nectar’s in Burlington. Photo by Aidan Quigley/VTDigger

Regular did not witness this himself, but took Nashid’s gun and believed that Dennis Martin had left the bar to store his own gun in a nearby car. Regular never saw Martin with a gun, and Martin denied ever having a gun.

His brother, Carl, pulled his own gun on Nashid outside of the bar immediately before the shooting.

The motion also mentions that Nectar’s legal team had been unable to speak with Nashid, who is being held in custody. Strembel questioned if the DLC had alleged sufficient facts to establish a violation.

Strempel also questioned if Nectar’s had a duty to call the police, as the initial altercation was not foreseeable and Nectar’s staff successfully prevented any further altercations inside the bar.

“The DLC’s implied allegation that Nectar’s manager should not have returned the firearm to Mr. Nashid is also legally problematic in that the DLC has raised no authority which Nectar’s had to seize and retain Mr. Nashid’s property,” she wrote.

Strempel declined to comment further Wednesday on the pending litigation. Noel Donnellan, a co-owner of Nectar’s, also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Donnellan told VTDigger in November that the bar now prohibits dangerous weapons and has instituted a policy that police will be called if any patrons are seen with a weapon or are making threats.

“People legally carrying guns into bars is an unfortunate reality in this country and this state,” he said at the time. “It is dangerous and unnecessary. Alcohol and guns don’t mix. It is our sincere hope that policymakers will enact long overdue commonsense gun reform, including prohibiting firearms from all bars and clubs.”

The board can take a number of disciplinary steps depending on its findings, Skyler Genest, the DLC’s director of compliance and enforcement, told VTDigger in November.

The board can impose monetary sanctions, suspend the liquor license or completely revoke it. It could also require the installation of metal detectors or video surveillance, Genest said.

Nectar’s has not yet responded to Parker’s civil suit, which was filed in January. The bar has until April 15 to answer the charges in that case, according to court records.

Burlington lawyer Ian Carleton is representing Parker in that lawsuit and argued in that lawsuit that Nectar’s failure to call police after confiscating the gun and the decision to return it to Nashid led to the shooting.

The lawsuit also alleges that the bar continued to serve Nashid and the Martin brothers alcohol after the initial altercation in the bar.

“This case is about what happens when a downtown bar treats the City of Burlington like the Wild West, confiscating and then returning a firearm to an intoxicated patron threatening to kill another patron, telling the combatants to ‘take it outside’ rather than calling the police, causing an outrageous and unacceptable threat to public safety,” the lawsuit argues.


Thursday, March 7, 2019

Lawsuit: Guards at Columbia sports bar let car run over, kill unconscious customer

COLUMBIA, SC - Security guards at the Mi Casita Sports Bar in Columbia placed an unconscious man in the way of a car driven by a drunk bar customer, who then ran over and killed him, a new lawsuit alleges.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed this week in Richland County state civil court charges that the October 2017 death of Troy Anderson, 49, was avoidable and happened only because of the bar’s “negligent security resumes.”

Anderson died 12 days after the incident from “massive trauma” to the head, torso and extremities, according to the Richland County Coroner’s Office.

Efforts to reach a spokesman for Mi Casita, which means “my little house” in Spanish, were unsuccessful Thursday.

The alleged drunk bar customer who ran over Anderson was 24-year-old Columbia resident Latonya Watson, records say. She was arrested about two weeks after Anderson’s death by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and charged with murder and leaving the scene of a deadly accident. She is currently jailed at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. She has not been released on bond.

Watson’s lawyer, Justin Kata, had no immediate comment on the lawsuit Thursday. Watson is not named in the lawsuit, but she would be a potential witness in any civil trial.

The lawsuit alleges on Oct. 5, 2017, Anderson was a customer at the bar when “he was negligently detained, handled and engaged by the security team causing him to become unconscious and placing him in harm’s way.”

At about the same time — 3 a.m., according to the sheriff’s department — a “visibly intoxicated” patron of Mi Casita left the bar and proceeded to get in her car, the lawsuit charged.

Mi Casita employees had continued selling alcoholic drinks to the person “despite her increasing intoxication” and even though bar employees knew “the patron would be driving an automobile with her faculties and judgment grossly and dangerously impaired,” the lawsuit said.

“The patron was unable to operate her vehicle safely and ... thus ran over the unconscious body of (Anderson),” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit, filed by Columbia attorney Wayne Ridgeway, alleges Mi Casita broke the law by continuing to sell alcohol to a drunken person, failing to provide an alternative means of transportation and in failing to train employees to recognize signs of intoxication and to sell alcohol more responsibly.

The lawsuit asked for actual and punitive damages but did not specify an amount.

Mi Casita has been in the news twice over the past year.

▪ In May 2018, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott accused the business of unlawfully operating as a strip club. In a press conference that month, Lott said “there have been fights, shots fired and even a murder” at Mi Casita.

▪ In January, a man who had been shot multiple times was found in Mi Casita’s parking lot, the sheriff’s department said. He was transported to a local hospital and apparently survived.


Saturday, March 2, 2019

How a 3 a.m. bar fight left a WV delegate blind

More than 12 years after Eric Porterfield, who made national news earlier this year comparing the gay community to the Ku Klux Klan, lost his vision in a parking lot brawl, his legal battle against the bar where it happened continues.

Porterfield, now a Republican member of the House of Delegates from Mercer County, started that night in 2006 at a strip club in Harvey, Illinois, a tough suburb just south of Chicago.

It ended in a fight involving as many as 10 people outside a now-closed Indiana bar about 30 minutes away. The fight left Porterfield completely blind at 32 years old.

Porterfield has said he earned his divinity degree at Hyles-Anderson College, an unaccredited Baptist school in nearby Crown Point, Indiana. He did not pursue criminal charges against anyone involved, but sued the bar, Cavanaugh’s Sports Bar and Eatery, several months later.

Depositions and court documents from that lawsuit, as well as from a police report obtained via Freedom of Information Act request from the police department in Schererville, Indiana, detail significantly different versions of the fight.

Porterfield’s lawsuit alleges Cavanaugh’s failed to provide adequate security that could have prevented the fight and seeks unspecified damages. He cited five other fights at the bar that year, and a high area crime rate that should have prompted more security that night. The lawsuit has been in the Indiana court system for more than a decade, and the latest filings came last week.

Porterfield directed a request for comment to his lawyer for this report. He also threatened to sue the Charleston Gazette-Mail and a reporter over the story. His lawyer, A. Leon Sarkisian of Merrillville, Indiana, did not respond to multiple phone calls.

The first punch

According to his own deposition, Porterfield and a friend, Steven McPherson, left Sky Box, a strip club in Harvey, Illinois, around 10:30 p.m. on the night of Saturday, Dec. 10, 2006. They headed across the Indiana state line to Cavanaugh’s, where they remained until closing time around 3 a.m.

According to her statement to police, Andrea Acevedo, a patron at Cavanaugh’s, was walking to her car with her cousin and two friends nearby, after the bar closed. McPherson approached her and touched her arm without permission. She told police McPherson told her to “shut the f--k up”; in her deposition in the lawsuit, she told attorneys he said “f--k you bitch.”

She said she told him it was late and he was drunk. He apologized. McPherson told police he knows he said something derogatory to Acevedo, and he might have told her to “shut the f--k up.”

Then, according to Acevedo, Porterfield approached.

“What are you apologizing to this bitch for?” Porterfield said, according to Acevedo’s deposition. “You don’t have to apologize.”

As two of her cousin’s friends, Jesus Venegas and Jason Dorado, approached, Porterfield addressed the bunch. “What are you bitches gonna do about it?” he said, according to Acevedo’s deposition.

According to Acevedo and her friends, Porterfield threw the first punch. Dorado said he’s 100 percent sure Porterfield took the first shot. Venegas said Porterfield threw the first punch, knocking him out cold.

Anthony Acevedo, Andrea Acevedo’s cousin, said he heard yelling before the fight.

“I just noticed like people were yelling and it kind of caught my attention, and then like I turned around and looked over, and I see this guy hit Jesus,” he said in his deposition.

McPherson told police the fight began among Porterfield and the others, not himself. He also told police that Porterfield told him not to talk to police.

The police officer writing the report said McPherson changed his account. “I was concerned that he was also not being truthful with me about his involvement in the fight or him being hit at the beginning of the fight,” the report states.

McPherson, per the report, eventually conceded he did not know who took the first swing.

“He was not looking at [the others] so he does not know who threw the first punch,” the report states.

The fight

The documents paint a chaotic picture of a fight, further muddled by changing statements to police and depositions taken years after the incident.

Dorado told police he saw Porterfield swing and knock down Venegas. According to Dorado’s deposition, Anthony Acevedo then hit Porterfield and the two went at it. Jumping in, Dorado said he grabbed Porterfield and put him in a headlock, when Porterfield bit his ear, gnawing off a piece of it.

In the police report, an officer details information from a doctor, who said Dorado told a nurse that Porterfield bit his ear when Dorado had him in a headlock.

Dorado then “poked his eyes out,” during the fight.

“What the f--k do you want, he bit me?” Dorado said to the nurse, according to the report.

In his deposition, Porterfield said he may have bitten someone’s ear, but he didn’t know whose.

“I don’t necessarily recall it, but it’s very possible with just a bunch of guys on you just doing anything to get loose from them,” he said. “It’s not like a specific, you know what I mean, target of biting. And without my sight, I don’t know what or if I bit and what it was. It’s hard to tell.”

According to the attending physician, Porterfield was diagnosed with bilateral globe perforation — meaning he had his eyes poked out.

Porterfield told police he doesn’t remember anyone poking his eyes and that his injuries were from punches.

McPherson told police that after he fell into some nearby bushes, he was hit at least 10 times. From the ground, he looked up and saw Porterfield on the hood of an SUV with about four men beating him.

Porterfield disputes

In his deposition in his lawsuit against the bar, Porterfield said he didn’t know what started the fracas. He said he was leaving with McPherson, and as he walked through the lot, he turned around and saw his friend surrounded. He asked the men to leave McPherson alone and said that he didn’t want any trouble.

“Unfortunately, Eric’s effort to extricate his friend from the confrontation was unsuccessful, and the incident resulting in his injuries ensued,” Porterfield’s attorney wrote in a brief.

Describing the fight, attorneys for Cavanaugh’s do not specify who Porterfield claims threw the first punch, only that it was McPherson who was hit, and that he was surprised the altercation occurred.

Porterfield said he wasn’t drinking the night of the fight. In their report, police officers noted the smell or effects of alcohol on almost everyone involved except Porterfield.

McPherson’s deposition aligns with Porterfield’s account, although it differs from what he told police. In his deposition, McPherson said several men came up behind him and Porterfield and said something. When he turned around, McPherson said, the group was coming at him and signaling a fight, seemingly without provocation.

“Man, I’m just here to have a good time,” McPherson said he told them. “I don’t want to fight anybody.”

McPherson said he took the first punch, knocking him into the bushes. He told police, when confronted about his story changing over multiple statements he provided, that he did not take the first punch.

Police also found reason to doubt Porterfield. After speaking with witnesses and participants, some of whose accounts differed from Porterfield’s earlier statements, an investigator described Porterfield as “vague” and “evasive” about the beginning of the fight, about six months after it all happened.

“I asked him if he threw the first punch of the fight,” the report states. “He stated that it was possible. He became argumentative. He stated that he could not talk to me about it and he wanted to take time to remember.”

In June 2007, several months after the fight, Porterfield arrived at the police station with an attorney, where he declined to provide a statement and said he did not want to pursue criminal charges against anyone involved in the fight, a request police heeded.

Four months later, Porterfield filed suit against Cavanaugh’s in Lake County Superior Court.

The case has since been appealed by Cavanaugh’s attorneys to the Indiana Court of Appeals, the state’s second-highest court.

The lower court ruled with Porterfield and struck down Cavanaugh’s motion for summary judgment. The order does not determine whose account is the truth, only that enough facts are in dispute that summary judgment would not be appropriate.

The case is ongoing, with the latest filing having been submitted Monday.

Recent controversy

Earlier this year, Porterfield garnered notoriety statewide for his anti-gay and lesbian sentiments and use of a slur in a committee meeting. He entered the national spotlight when, defending himself, he compared gay people to the Ku Klux Klan, “without wearing hoods.”

In a 20-minute broadcast interview, he repeated the sentiments and cast himself as the victim, given the feedback and threats he said he received. When asked how he would respond if his son and daughter, as teenagers, told him they were gay, he seemed to imply drowning them.

“Well, I will address my daughter first: I would take her for a pedicure, I’d take her to get her nails done, and see if she can swim,” he said. “If it was my son, I would probably take him hunting, I would take him fishing, and I’d see if he can swim.”

In a previous interview, Porterfield detailed a public war of words between him, a pro-choice OB-GYN and a local magistrate that involved a temporary personal safety order being filed against him.

To the openly expressed frustration of many House Democrats, Porterfield retains his committee assignments. With a degree of prescience, he said back in November he would make waves in Charleston, before he ever even took his oath of office.

“Wait ‘til they get a hold of me in the Legislature,” he said.