A Superior Court judge ordered two men who beat a man at a now-defunct Bristol bar to pay the victim $157,395.
New Britain Superior Court Judge Lisa Kelly Morgan ordered Richard Campbell Jr. and his son, Richard Campbell III, to pay Richard Pliska $107,395. The judge also ordered Paul Murdock, the then owner of the Downtown Café, to pay Pliska $50,000. The order was handed down Sept. 8 after a bench trial to resolve a civil lawsuit.
Another son of Richard Campbell Jr., Shaun Campbell, previously settled with Pliska. That amount is confidential.
The lawsuit included counts for negligence, intentional conduct and dram, which means the bar owner should have been held responsible because the attackers were given drinks even though they were intoxicated at the time.
According to a police report and a December 2011 lawsuit, Pliska was at the bar for about 20 minutes when the elder Campbell approached him and a friend and began talking about being a Vietnam veteran.
“Pliska stated that Campbell Sr. was very annoying and told him to go away,” the police report stated. Pliska said the two brothers came “out of nowhere” and started to pummel him with their fists and feet.
A witness said the father was also seen punching Pliska while he was on a couch.
A bar surveillance video showed the attack. It’s hard to make out what the individuals in the video look like, but police arrested the three men and charged them in the beating.
Pliska suffered back and neck injuries that have lingered, according to his attorney, Peter Bowman.
“We believe he also has permanent headaches related to this incident,” Bowman said.
Pliska was “heavily intoxicated” and did not want to give a sworn statement, according to the police report.
The men who attacked him were also drunk, said Bowman, senior trial attorney for Pavano Dombrowski in Windsor.
“Our client was viciously attacked,” Bowman said. “The judgment shows the power and impact of the video. It was crucial to show the severity of the attack.”
Bowman acknowledged that collecting the judgment could take a while.
The Campbells must pay Pliska $7,395 in medical expenses, $50,000 in lost wages and $50,000 in noneconomic damages in addition to the $50,000 from the bar.
Bowman said he made it a point to go after the bar and its owner because “this underlines a problem in this state, in that several bars are operating without dram shop insurance, which poses a risk to patrons.”
Connecticut’s Dram Shop Act “holds bars responsible for the actions of their patrons if the bar knowingly serves an intoxicated person,” Bowman said. “The persons who assaulted my client were heavily intoxicated and they assaulted him for no reason.”
Neither Murdock, Richard Campbell Jr. nor Richard Campbell III had attorneys.
Murdock said he’d appeal the judge’s order. He did not elaborate.
“I had insurance coverage at the time, but it would not cover this incident because it was a person-on-person attack,” he said.
Richard Campbell Jr. and Richard Campbell III were both charged with second-degree breach of peace and third-degree assault. Both pleaded guilty to the breach of peace and paid a $100 fine. Their assault charges were nolled.
Shaun Campbell was also charged with second-degree breach of peace and third-degree assault. Both of his charges were nolled.
Richard Campbell Jr. declined to comment and Richard Campbell III and Shaun Campbell were not available for comment.