Is this considered assault/battery? If so, what can I do about it?
Last night, I was going out with a few friends to a bar/club. We were there about 15 minutes when I was grabbed on the shoulder from behind. At this point, I hadn't even been there long enough to get a drink. A bouncer yelled at me "take your hat off". I asked him "why?". He yelled again "this is the last time I'm going to tell you to take your hat off", at which point I began to take my hat off and asked again "okay, but why?" He then grabbed me by the shoulders, kicked my feet out from under me, and slammed me into the ground. Luckily, there were 3 other bouncers there who grabbed him and restrained him while I was still laying on the ground. My friend helped me up, and I was grabbed again by another bouncer who told me I had to leave. On the way out, I asked him "why am I being kicked out?" to which he replied "I don't care."
Outside of the bar, another security guard told me that hats weren't allowed in the bar. Although that might be true, I saw plenty of other patrons wearing hats. Upon entering the bar, neither the man who checked my i.d. nor the one who stamped my hand said anything about my hat.
So the next day I'm here with a swollen, bruised ankle, a splitting headache, and a bump on the back of my head. Is there anything I can do about this? Keep in mind that all of this occurred while I was completely sober.
1 Answer from Attorneys
As someone who worked as a security guard at a concert venue throughout law school, the security guard's actions appear excessive and, in my opinion, likely constitute a battery.
Security guards, who generally work hand-in-hand with off-duty police officers at many bars, are generally given some leeway in how physical they can be with the bar's clientele due to the sometimes dangerous nature of the job. However, based upon the facts as you present them, it appears that the security guard used force that was excessive for the situation. His force could meet the legal definition for a battery - and unwanted, offensive touching.
However...the real issue here is the issue of your damages. No doubt your night was ruined, but how bad are your injuries? Imagine if you're a jury member and someone comes before you, complaining of a headache, some bumps and bruises. How much would you award them? $50? $150? 500? Because it would cost you as much if not more in filing fees to file the lawsuit as could be expected to recover, your best option might not be to file a lawsuit, but rather not to patronize the bar in the future.