A Santa Monica jury awarded $5.4 million to a victim who was allegedly raped by an employee of a West Hollywood nightclub in 2009. After a 15-day trial, jurors found that the nightclub’s negligence played a substantial part in the assault and would therefore pay 40% of the total verdict. At trial, the victim’s attorneys argued that the nightclub had turned a blind eye to sexual activity that was happening in the unisex restroom areas. Additionally, attorneys argued that security guards were not circulating through these areas as they were required to do under company policy.
According to the lawsuit, the victim arrived to the Here Lounge shortly after 12:30 a.m. Video cameras then captured the woman buying a bottle of water and sitting at the club’s outdoor patio for a short period of time before entering a unisex restroom. The lawsuit alleged that after she closed the door and began to sit on the toilet, a Here Lounge employee, Victor Cruz, barged into the stall and sexually assaulted her. The victim eventually escaped, ran out of the club, and was found by a Good Samaritan who reported the incident to 911.
At trial, jurors rejected the nightclub’s defense that the sexual acts were consensual or that security guards were circulating the restroom areas as the club’s company policy states they are supposed to. Attorneys for the victim believe this is one of the largest verdicts ever awarded by a jury for sexual assault against a nightclub or bar.
If you or someone you know has been a victim to sexual assault by company personnel, bouncers, or security guards, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling (713) 222-7211 or 713-222-7211.