A man claiming he was savagely beaten by Buckhead Saloon staffers, who thought he was trying to steal a bottle of tequila he bought from the bartender, has sued the watering hole and 10 unnamed defendants, saying he incurred more than $10,000 in medical bills.
According to the complaint filed in Fulton County State Court, plaintiff Brett Chance was at the bar in June 2017, and was “at all times well-behaved and paid his bill at the end of the evening.”
As he was getting ready to go, Chance bought a bottle of tequila from the bartender—“as allowed by law”—and began to leave.
As he exited “and without any opportunity to answer or protect himself,” one to 10 unnamed John Doe defendants who worked at the bar “brutally assaulted and beat” Chance.
His attackers, believed to be employed in “various capacities including security, ‘bouncers’, and maintenance” personnel, “punched, kicked, stomped and beat [Chance] all over his body,” leaving him with a concussion and injuries to his back, thorax, legs, head and face.
The defendants never asked Chance whether he bought the liquor or for a receipt, did not notify the police about its possible theft and failed to ask him “to return the bottle of tequila to Buckhead Saloon if, in fact, it was not purchased,” the complaint said.
“Even after being told by another employee of the establishment that the liquor had been paid for, Defendants John Does 1–10 continued to taunt, heckle, and threaten” Chance, it said.
They continued harassing Chance, “both at the scene and afterward, in the form of verbal attacks, direct messaging through text and email, and social media insults,” the complaint said.
The attorney who filed the complaint, Williamson Law Firm principal Scott Williamson, said he and co-counsel Bryan Sutlive did not have permission to discuss the case, and the Daily Report was unable to find contact information for Chance.
The suit named the bar’s corporate parent, BTW Atlanta LLC, as a co-defendant and served on its registered agent, Jeffrey Bolhous. Efforts to reach Bolhous were unsuccessful.
Whatever the actual events of June 12, 2017, the complaint’s assertion that Chance’s purchase of the take-home tequila was “allowed by law” may be on shaky legal ground.
“It’s my understanding that ‘package sales’ (i.e., the sale of distilled spirits by the sealed bottle) at a Consumption-On-Premises licensed establishment is illegal,” said Wiggins Law Group principal Cary Wiggins, whose client roster includes many clubs and restaurants.
Wiggins is not involved in the Chance litigation.
While “many local jurisdictions have adopted ‘Merlot to go’ ordinances, which allow customers at COP establishments (e.g., restaurants and bars) to take home an unsealed bottle of wine after it’s re-sealed, selling package liquor from a COP bar ‘to go’ is illegal,” Wiggins said via email.
Wiggins said some COP establishments “sell ‘bottles’ of distilled spirits for table service,” but even those businesses “know that the customers cannot leave with the packaged liquor bottle.”
According to Georgia State Rule 560-2-3.15, a “retail consumption dealer shall not sell distilled spirits in packages for carryout purposes at any time.”
Any business violating the rule “shall be subject to the suspension or revocation of licenses to sell alcoholic beverages.”