Black man can sue northern Michigan bar after he was attacked twice because of his race, court rules

A northern Michigan bar can be sued by a Black man who said he was twice attacked by a white customer because of his race, the state Court of Appeals said.

FILE - Generic gavel on wooden table.

FILE - Generic gavel on wooden table.

Employees at BS & Co., a bar in Wolverine in Cheboygan County, had a duty to call police but failed to act after Edward Tyson suffered the first punches, the court said Thursday.

Tyson said he was called a racial slur and slugged repeatedly by David Dawkins when he tried to pick up a pizza in 2015. He said he suffered frontal lobe brain damage and bleeding on the brain.

"A jury might also conclude that had Dawkins learned that the police were called after the first assault, he would not have felt emboldened to engage in the second assault," the appeals court said.

The attacks occurred just outside the front door, but the appeals court said the location doesn’t change its conclusion.

"A reasonable jury could conclude that because defendant’s bar patrons congregated out front on the sidewalk on bike nights and flowed in and out of the bar on a regular basis while temporarily leaving their drinks at the bar, the area around the front entrance was effectively defendant’s premises," Judges Jane Beckering and Douglas Shapiro said.

Judge David Sawyer didn’t join the 10-page opinion but said he agreed with the result.

The appeals court reversed the decision of Cheboygan County Judge Scott Pavlich. In a separate matter, Dawkins was convicted of aggravated assault.