Wetherspoon pub bouncer launched 'cowardly' attack on customerSeptember 26, 2023
Wetherspoon pub bouncer launched ‘cowardly’ attack on customer, 39, as he walked away after being denied entry – leaving him needing two hip replacements
- Bernard Burger was left him with a fractured and dislocated hip after the attack
- The bouncer attacked him from behind outside a pub in Guildford in 2018
A man was left needing two hip replacements after a Wetherspoon pub bouncer denied him entry and attacked him as he walked away.
Bernard Burger, 39, was the victim of a ‘cowardly attack’ which left him with a fractured and dislocated hip after he tried to get into a Wetherspoon’s bar in Guildford, Surrey in 2018.
The building site boss had been drinking with two friends at his home and was denied entry into the Rodboro Buildings pub for being too drunk.
The group got into a heated discussion with the bouncers before deciding to leave but as they walked away Mr Burger was attacked from behind by a bouncer, who launched himself into him, breaking and dislocating his hip.
Mr Burger was eventually taken to the Royal County Surrey Hospital, in Guildford, following the ‘appalling assualt’ and had emergency corrective surgery in the early hours of the morning.
Bernard Burger (pictured), 39, was left needing two hip replacements after a Wetherspoon pub bouncer denied him entry and attacked him as he walked away
Mr Burger previously loved running and kayaking, but now struggles to even chase after his dog and faces having his hip replaced after the 2018 assault.
Central London County Court heard the attack happened in August after Mr Burger, a construction manager, had enjoyed a barbeque at his home with two friends, before heading into Guildford for drinks.
When they arrived at the giant Rodboro Buildings pub – run in a Grade-II Listed former car factory by Wetherspoon in the town centre – they were told that they were too intoxicated to be allowed in.
A heated discussion ensued, mainly involving bouncers and one of Mr Burger’s friends, before they began to leave.
But with his back turned and heading away, Mr Burger was then attacked by a bouncer, who launched himself into him with his leg or knee, tackling him to the pavement, before another also waded in.
Footage played in court contained ‘harrowing audio,’ in which Mr Burger could be heard screaming in pain as his hip was dislocated and fractured, said the judge, Recorder Tom Shepherd.
The judge said the assault on Mr Burger was ‘appalling’ and that he had posed no threat to anyone and was not even aggressive.
When police arrived, they were told by one bouncer that it was a ‘waste of your time mate’ and Wetherspoon went on to blame Mr Burger in court for what happened.
He sued both Wetherspoon and its door contractor, Risk Solutions BG Ltd, for compensation, obtaining a default judgment against Risk Solutions.
However, after Risk Solutions was wound up, the case proceeded against Wetherspoon, with Mr Burger’s lawyers arguing that it was ‘vicariously liable’ for the actions of the bouncers manning its doors.
The building site boss had been drinking with two friends at his home and was denied entry into the Rodboro Buildings pub (pictured) for being too drunk
His barrister, Lia Moses, told the court that the case was important to Mr Burger, as his injury had a serious impact on his life and he is expected to require two hip replacements during his lifetime.
‘Before the incident, he and his partner enjoyed running, cycling and kayaking,’ she told the judge.
‘Now, he says, after a few seconds of running after his dog, he can be left unable to move. This case matters to him.’
After watching clips from CCTV and the doormen’s own body cameras, Recorder Shepherd said he was convinced that, although he had sworn during the heated conservation, Mr Burger had not been an aggressor.
Instead, he had been a ‘calm, uninterested bystander in this whole desperately sorry affair.’
Mr Shepherd said: ‘In my judgment, there simply was no prior attack by the claimant. JD Wetherspoon has not adduced any evidence in support of the same.’
Despite being under no threat, the bouncer, Samuel Haeger, had ‘jumped towards the claimant, with his knee or leg connecting with the claimant’s back so as to cause him to fall on the pavement face down,’ said the judge.
He had then been left lying with a dislocated and fractured hip on the floor, screaming ‘my leg, my leg,’ while being told to ‘get up then’ by the door staff.
Agreeing with Ms Moses’ description of the incident as ‘appalling,’ the judge continued: ‘The force used was quite clearly disproportionate.
‘This was a cowardly attack on a man who may have sworn, but in no sense was a threat or risk. The claimant was walking away from the pub at the time. He did not present a risk in any meaningful sense.
‘Those individuals were door staff who were meant to be protecting customers.’
Mr Burger was attacked from behind by a bouncer, who launched himself into him, breaking and dislocating his hip, Central London County Court (pictured) heard
The judge also rejected Wetherspoon’s claim that it should not be held accountable for the actions of door staff who were not actual employees.
He said the security team’s work was ‘integral’ to Wetherspoon as it was required to maintain its licence and ‘clearly for the benefit’ of the business.
The bouncers were also essentially a part of the team at the pub, he continued.
‘The practical reality on the ground is that the security staff clearly fitted into the existing hierarchy, with the head doorman reporting in to the duty manager of the pub,’ he said.
He added: ‘It would be fair, just and reasonable to impose liability on the facts of this case. I find that JD Wetherspoon Plc is vicariously liable for the actions of the door staff.’
‘This was an appalling incident. The claimant has been forced to live through that for many years.
‘Preparing for court proceedings, particularly where there has been such a lengthy delay, bears its toll on people, as does having to attend court and be challenged on your version of events.’
The judge awarded Mr Burger £71,300 in compensation for his injuries and also ordered Wetherspoon to pick up his lawyers’ bills, estimated at £123,000, for the three-day trial.
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