Beating by bar's security guard causes TBI. $9.25M. Los Angeles County.


Drunk patron is assaulted by security guard; guard says it was self defense.

The Case

  • Case Name: Shawn Dearing v. Cabo Cantina, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC 591198
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, July 26, 2017
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, August 13, 2015
  • Type of Case: Assault and Battery, Course and scope of employment, Security
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Mary Ann Murphy
  • Plaintiffs:
    Shawn Dearing, 28, bartender for an event company.
  • Defendants:
    Cabo Cantina
    RMG Sunset, Inc. (the management company which manages 16 different restaurant/bars, including Cabo Cantina.)
    Global Protection Group, Inc. (provided the security guards to the bar.)
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $9,254,397.21
  • Net Verdict or Award: Reduced by 42% comparative negligence to $5,367,550.38 net to plaintiff.
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    Global Protection Group tendered this case to its insurance company, but they refused to defend, allowing Global to go into default. The case went to trial against Cabo Cantina (CC) and RMG Sunset. At trial, CC and RMG stipulated to agency of the security guards in order to exclude evidence of their negligence in screening, training and supervising of the guards. The judgment is jointly and severally against CC and RMG with a default against Global.

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 42% plaintiff.
  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 11 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/4 days.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 on negligence and damages; 10-2 on comparative negligence.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff will be seeking $100,000 in expert witness fees and $400,000 in prejudgment interest due to exceeding the 998 of $1,000,000.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Mansell & Mansell, APC by Robert Mansell and Amanda Derby, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Wolfe & Wyman, LLP by Sam Wyman and Richard Hatem, Irvine.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Lester Zackler, M.D., neuropsychiatry, Sherman Oaks.
    H. Ronald Fisk, M.D., neurology, Los Angeles.
    Liz Holakiewicz, RN, BSN, CCM, CNLCP, life care planning, Carlsbad.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Michael Wienir, M.D., neurology, Tarzana.
    John Dunn, Ph.D., neuropsychology.
    Mary Jesko, M.S., EdD, CCM, CDMS, CLCP, life care planning, San Diego.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Bruce Ramm, security, Orange.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Stanley Kephart, security, Murrieta.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On Jul 22, 2017 at 2:00 a.m. plaintiff was in front of Cabo Cantina waiting for his friends to leave the establishment. Plaintiff was leaning against a small rail that separated the sidewalk from the bar. A security guard posted in front of Cabo Cantina told plaintiff to stop leaning on the rail and eventually an altercation arose, at which time the security guard walked around the rail and off of Cabo’s property with plaintiff following him. Before this altercation the security guard supervisor came outside, but failed to de-escalate the situation and allowed the first security guard to leave his post and physically interact with plaintiff. Surveillance video from the bar next door showed what appeared to be the guard putting something (a fist load) into his right fist. It also showed that plaintiff made the first contact with the guard when he slapped the guard’s hand away from him. Thereafter, the guard hit plaintiff in the left temporal region.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That two security guards were negligent as they broke several of Cabo Cantina’s own Use of Force policy by engaging with plaintiff after he was off property, failing to de-escalate the altercation and using excessive force.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That plaintiff had been out drinking at three different bars over the preceding six hours and was very intoxicated, started a fight and lost. That plaintiff was the first to make physical contact and the guard had the right to defend himself.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Left temporal fracture and an occipital skull fracture from the back of his head hitting the sidewalk. Plaintiff remained at Cedars Sinai for 3 days in and out of consciousness and was left with a moderate traumatic brain injury. All doctors agreed with the diagnosis, however they disagreed with the respective life care plans.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $57,201.09 (Stipulated)
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: Plaintiff’s life care planner listed total future medical care to be $1,908,153.88. Defendants’ life care planner listed total future medical care to be $148,767.70.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $1,000,000 policy limits (eight months before trial). The offer was renewed one month before trial. The defense asked for two extensions of the offer before allowing it to expire on its extended terms.
  • Plaintiff Demand during Trial: $4,750,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $800,000
  • Defendant Offer during Trial: $1,000,000 after plaintiff rested his case.