A woman who was severely beaten by an intoxicated man who was celebrating an upcoming wedding at the same Charleston bar at which the woman was celebrating her birthday has won an $882,000 judgment against the bar for failing to protect her from the attack.
In September 2015, Samantha Antley and 11 of her friends arrived at The Shelter Bar + Kitchen just after midnight, her attorney, Andrew McCumber of Slotchiver & Slotchiver in Charleston, said. Shortly afterward, Preston Yelverton arrived as part of a bachelor party. His group approached Antley and her friends, made inappropriate advances and statements, and physically assaulted Antley and one of her companions.
Security forced both groups to leave the bar at the same time, McCumber said. Antley and a friend initially got into a car together, but got back out of it when Yelverton and others started hitting its windows. Antley’s friend was hit and fell down, and when Antley bent down to assist her, Yelverton grabbed her by the collar and punched her in the face nine times, knocking her out and fracturing her septum.
Antley underwent reconstruction surgery to her face and now suffers from nerve damage, obstructed breathing, and scarring, McCumber said. Yelverton was charged with second degree assault and battery.
Antley filed a lawsuit against The Shelter, but the business failed to answer and the complaint was declared in default in February 2018. The Shelter moved to set aside the judgement, but the request was denied.
During a hearing for damages, Dr. Craig Rowin, a plastic surgeon, described Antley’s prior and future medical treatment and the nature of the procedures, recovery time, and pain related to her injuries. Antley testified about the incident, the nature of her injuries, how they have affected her daily activities, and her pain and suffering.
Antley also called B.J. Kale, the owner of Trifecta Security Group, who was a contractor for the Shelter and provided security for the bar prior to the incident. Over the objection of the defense, Kale testified about proper protocol for handling confrontations involving intoxicated people. He said that the way the bar handled the groups was contrary to industry standards.
“He testified that he personally observed a number of incidents during his tenure at The Shelter, and that the number of incidents presented during the hearing was far in excess of any other client of his,” McCumber said.
Benjamin Davis of McAngus Goudelock & Courie in Charleston represented the bar at the proceedings. He said that he was limited to what he could say about the hearing at this time.
In his March 26 order of judgment, Judge William Seals wrote that he was troubled by the fact Antley continued to go to the bar several times even after the occurred. (In his findings of fact in that same order, Seals also described Antley as “a very attractive young female.”)
Seals awarded punitive damages of $450,000, finding the bar to be “very culpable” for removing Antley and her attacker from the premises knowing that they were intoxicated and that a violent situation was developing and failing to do anything to separate the parties and prevent or deescalate a violent situation. Seals noted that the bar was aware of the problem and continued to over-serve the individuals involved, and that this decision significantly contributed to the situation.
VERDICT REPORT — DRAM SHOP
Injuries alleged: Fractured septum, permanent nerve damage, permanent scarring, disfiguration
Case name: Antley v. Dart Shelter, LLC d/b/a “The Shelter Bar + Kitchen”, et al.
Court: Charleston County Circuit Court
Case No.: 2017-CP-10-06176
Judge: William Seals Jr.
Date of judgement: March 26
Special damages: $450,000 in punitive damages
Most helpful experts: Dr. Craig Rowin of Plastic Surgery of the Carolinas in Mount Pleasant (plastic surgeon)
Attorneys for plaintiff: Andrew McCumber and Daniel Slotchiver of Slotchiver & Slotchiver in Charleston and Edward Phipps of Charleston
Attorney for defendant: Benjamin Davis of oMcAngus Goudelock & Courie in Charleston