A Logan man who was injured in a bar fight at The White Owl in 2017 is suing the Center Street establishment for $2 million under a Utah law that may allow the staff and the owner to be held liable for the injuries he incurred that night.
Berenger Benally, 46, filed the lawsuit with the aid of Logan attorney J. Brett Chambers on March 26, one day before the statute of limitations ran out.
John L. Calderwood, who owns The White Owl, said he has turned the case over to his insurance company and he is unable to discuss the case. Calderwood’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
According to a Logan City Police report regarding the 2017 incident, officers were dispatched to a 3:30 a.m. call for medical assistance on the upper floor of the Owl, where the responding officer said he found Benally holding blood-soaked rags to his face.
“I observed a large/deep laceration on the right side of his head, above his ear. I also noticed that his right eye was swollen shut and bleeding heavily. It appeared that a piece of glass was lodged in his eye,” the officer stated in his report.
Benally, who was apparently struck in the face with a large mug, was transported to a local hospital for treatment.
According to the complaint filed in 1st District Court, “the assailants attacked Benally and caused serious and life-threatening injuries, including brain damage. As a result of their attack, Benally was left partially blind, physically disfigured, and permanently mentally and emotionally disabled.”
“The assailants,” as they are identified in the lawsuit, have not yet been named by police. There was no security video footage, none of the employees witnesses the assault, and the suspects were not known to staff or patrons who were present that night, the police report states.
Within days of the alleged assault, the responding officer reported he had a person of interest, but it was a month before he was able to make contact with Benally again.
In early May, Benally agreed to meet with police to view suspect photos, but there are no further notations in the police report until June 2, when the officer reports the photo lineup had been prepared and he arranged a meeting with Benally.
The meeting was rescheduled for June 5, but Benally didn’t show up, police said.
After multiple failed attempts to reach him, the case was classified on June 12 as “inactive due to the victim being uncooperative.”
The complaint states that under Utah’s Alcoholic Product Liability Act, the staff at the Owl knew, or should have known, that the unnamed assailants were under the influence of alcohol and yet they allegedly continued to provide them with alcohol — and Benally’s injuries were incurred as a result.
The law does not allow Benally to collect damages strictly for the sake of punishment of a defendant, but he is seeking damages for “general, special, consequential, economic or non-economic damages, including but not limited to mental and emotional injuries, loss of affection, and loss of companionship.”
Benally has asked for a jury to hear the case.