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Man sues Grim’s alleging bouncers didn’t save him from beating


(Image: Courtesy James Passey)

A Capitol Hill man who was allegedly the victim of a beating inside Grim’s is now suing the 11th Ave bar claiming bouncers strong-armed him out the door while he was bleeding and injured, then failed to protect him outside as the assailants continued to punch him, breaking his jaw.

Austin Wilkes claims the Grim’s bouncers failed to call the police or medics despite his severe injuries, forcing him to take a cab to Harborview Medical Center.

Police followed up on the October 19th altercation a few hours after it happened, but made no arrests according to a report on the incident. Wilkes later told the responding officer that his jaw was broken in three places and had to be wired shut. He underwent two surgeries to reset his jaw and teeth, according to the lawsuit. Wilkes’ attorney, Kevin Sullivan, told CHS that Wilkes will require more surgeries in the coming months.

No charges were filed in the case.

According to the suit, three men beat Wilkes inside the bar’s upstairs Butterfly Lounge. Employees at the bar had told police there were security cameras that may have captured the incident. However, the lawsuit claims Grim’s failed to retain the video evidence.

The case also shines light on the sometimes brutal situations that happen in Capitol Hill’s nightlife scene involving bouncers and security. In November, CHS reported on two incidents in Pike/Pine with violence and assaults involving security staff. In one, a patron suffered facial cuts in a run-in with security. In another, the victim told police his $600 phone was snapped in half by a bouncer as the victim tried to record an incident involving security and another patron.

The Grim’s lawsuit doesn’t specify how much money Wilkes is seeking. Sullivan said he thinks the case will go to trial, but not for at least another year.

Grim’s “steampunk”-styled bar opened in 2010. Owner Laura Olson is also behind Capitol Hill’s Auto Battery and Po Dogs, as well as Anchors Down in Ballard.

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16 thoughts on “Man sues Grim’s alleging bouncers didn’t save him from beating

  1. Seems kind of crappy of security not to call police on a fight happening outside. Then again, isn’t this the same people who brought us “The Social”?

  2. Bouncers on the hill can be dicks. But, frat puke customers are dicks more often. However, this does not justify what these bouncers did. Maybe they should take a lesson from Joe, the head bouncer at Unicorn. He is always polite. Even when kicking someone out. And, most importantly, never look on as someone is assaulted. Big fail for Grimm and their security staff.

  3. There’s no duty to step in, or even to call 911, unless you’re directly involved, and even then it’s pretty gray unless it’s vehicle related or at work. There’s really no case here unless I’m missing something.

    • Actually, that’s incorrect. Owner/operators of businesses that are open to and invite the public onto their premises – in particular, tavernkeepers and dram shops – have a special relationship with their patrons that imposes a high duty of care owed by the tavernkeeper or dram shop operator to their customers in connection with violent acts against their customers by third parties, which includes a duty to extend aid – such as calling the police or utilizing on-site security to intervene. In layman’s terms, one cannot operate a business for which a core business is the selling of on-premises alcohol and then plead “its not my fault” when a set patrons violently assaults another patron. And that duty cannot be extinguished merely by dumping the victim on the street – any more than a bar owner can get out of responsibility for a drunk customer running over someone in their car merely by dumping the drunk on the street.

      I don’t know the specifics of how this principle has been applied in Washington State, but it is a recognized common law duty of care under the special relationship doctrine under the restatement of torts – and thus a potential negligence lawsuit against Grimm’s.

      Just saying.

      • Some establishments won’t make a call because they fear having the incident on their record with liquor control. That said, it’s a sleazy move and not the mark of a well-run bar.

  4. Unless security staff at these clubs are off duty police officers or retired/former law enforcement, they are just hired goons with no actual training.

  5. Not apropos to the article, but stop calling grims ‘steampunk.’ There’s nothing even remotely steampunk about it. It’s calling an apple a banana.

  6. Wow, their Security staff is dumb. You never kick everyone out at once to continue fighting outside because you are liable for what happens to your patron.Grins uis gonna lose their shirt over this one. Just another reason to stay away from Belltown I mean Capital Hill.

  7. I work there….first off dude was belligerent and started the fight by calling some black dudes the N word while they were trying to talk to his girl.. they kicked out all parties involved…then he ran up on them outside after it was broken up and got hit again….bouncers then asked if he was alright and if he needed an ambulance, dude said no and took off in a cab with his girl. Bouncers have no jurisdiction of what happens on the street, most are trained not to do anything if fights happen in the middle of the street bc they could be held liable if something happens. Dude was a drink idiot that kind of got what he deserved