Sheriff’s son sues BR bar after injury during August bar brawl

Ben Gautreaux hurt in August brawl

A man severely beaten during a bar fight this summer has filed a lawsuit against City Bar of Baton Rouge and three Livingston Parish men accused of assaulting him.

Ben Gautreaux, the son of East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, claims the downtown bar has had a “multitude of prior incidents” that resulted in physical injury to patrons, and it improperly admitted customers “known to have dangerous propensities.”

“City Bar did not have sufficient security to maintain a safe environment for patrons within the two-level premises,” the lawsuit claims. “There was only one security personnel saddled with maintaining the peace in the very crowded area of City Bar’s upper level.”

The lawsuit stems from an “unprovoked, vicious” beating in which Gautreaux suffered a broken jaw and other injuries Aug. 24 at the 333 Third St. establishment.

“On the night of the attack,” the lawsuit alleges, “City Bar was overcrowded with patrons who were being served alcohol.”

When the fight broke out, the lawsuit says, the lone bouncer received no help from any other employees in restoring the peace. Gautreaux was “caught up in the middle of the fracas,” the lawsuit says, and struck multiple times.

At one point, the suit alleges, he was punched repeatedly “while he lay on the ground not fighting back or offering any type of resistance.” The suit says Gautreaux received multiple “serious, disabling and permanent personal injuries.”

The owner of the bar, Brandon L. Hargrave, did not return messages seeking comment Friday. Gautreaux’s attorney, Keith Richards, did not return a call for comment.

The three Livingston Parish men named as defendants in the civil suit also face criminal charges in the fight.

Hunter Hughes, 25, 36067 Walker North Road, Walker, was booked with second-degree battery and is accused of breaking Gautreaux’s jaw in multiple places.

Brandon Knapp, 24, 31009 Autumn Lake Drive, Walker, and Kenneth S. Stogner, 28, 1526 Charters Ave., Denham Springs, were booked with simple battery about a week after the fight.

The lawsuit did not offer specific examples of prior incidents at the bar, but court records show this is at least the third time City Bar has been sued this year.

One lawsuit similarly accused the bar of failing to provide customers a safe environment, but the plaintiff, Justin Newsom, claimed he had his knee “blown out” after an overzealous security guard jumped on his back.

A former bouncer at the bar, Ihab Mustafa, also filed suit against City Bar this spring, claiming he had been seriously injured after a customer hit him over the head with a bottle.

Hargrave is accused in the lawsuit of refusing to pay for Mustafa’s medical treatment.

Baton Rouge police confirmed they have been called to City Bar several times this year but said that’s not out of the ordinary for a bar. Officers nevertheless have increased their presence around downtown bars in recent months.

“It’s gotten a lot quieter since we started that,” Sgt. Mary Ann Godawa, a police spokeswoman, said of the additional patrols. “It’s a good place to go now.”