The parents of a 24-year-old Palo Alto man who died after allegedly being punched by a large bouncer at a San Jose bar have filed a more than $20-million lawsuit against the business, its owners and the bouncer.
Daniel Adam Esquivel was knocked unconscious after the bar's bouncer, Jose Bonilla Rodas, 28, allegedly struck him during an argument outside the Myth Taverna & Lounge on March 28. Esquivel fell to the ground, striking his head. He never regained consciousness. He was pronounced dead at Stanford Hospital a few hours later, according to police. The Santa Clara County Coroner determined that Esquivel died of blunt-force trauma as a result of the incident.
The lawsuit by Blanca Reyes and David Esquivel, the deceased man's parents, was filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Thursday, Aug. 6. It alleges battery, assault, negligence, negligence in hiring, retention and supervision and premises liability.
The plaintiffs are asking for $10 million for loss of earnings, $10 million for loss of companionship and currently undetermined sums for medical, funeral and other expenses and losses. The suit names Myth Taverna Lounge, 152 Post LLC, Myth Partners, LLC, owners Anthony Emmanuel Pagkas, Tsampika Pagkas, Isaac Barrera, Carlos Carmona and Rodas as defendants.
The case highlights the danger of hiring unlicensed persons as security at bars and night clubs, the plaintiffs' attorney, Richard Alexander, said.
"They hire big men to be their local police. They are untrained. Excessive force is common," he said. Alexander has represented a number of cases where bouncers caused serious injury, including a case in Campbell, where a patron received a broken jaw and in Alameda, where someone sustained brain damage.
Reyes said she wants to change state law to require bars to hire licensed and trained security.
"The message here really is that no money in the world can make up for the loss we suffer. Our goal is to stop senseless, unnecessary violence and excessive force at bars and night clubs," Reyes said.
"Bars make money because young people drink. We are pushing for a change in California law requiring all staff at night clubs and bars to be fully trained and provided with the skills to avoid what happened here. Hiring staff with muscles leads to the use of excessive force. It's time they were required to hire staff with brains and who are there to protect patrons, not hurt them."
Under California law, security guards must receive proper training, and they must obtain a Proprietary Private Security Officer or Security Guard license through the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services under the state Business and Professions code.
Alexander argues that bouncers are security guards who are tasked with protecting property and people, and as such it is negligent to hire and allow bouncers to work without the necessary training and registrations, the lawsuit alleges.
The defendants could not immediately be reached for comment.