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Lessons from Bar Fight Litigation (2014) (ordinary-gentlemen.com)
64 points by apsec112 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments



Worth noting: participants' size, strength, or degree of training doesn't even signify. The simple fact is that whoever gets the first shot in probably gets the last. There can be exceptions if the other person is both trained (in the right kind of martial art) and ready, but that combination is damn rare. So here are your options:

(1) Never visit bars, or at least limit yourself to the very top tier.

(2) Be willing to throw the first punch (kick, whatever).

(3) Be trained (again, in the right kind of martial art) and be ready all the time. That means being ready through an awful lot of false alarms, and also taking the risk of your readiness being interpreted as escalation. Your friends probably won't want to hang around in bars with you if you're like that.

(4) Learn how to de-escalate potentially violent situations.

Really, having been in a few fights, I highly recommend #4. That one skill is likely to be more useful than everything you'll ever learn in a dojo.


4 is best, by far.

I look romantically at my time as a doorman for a dive bar, especially now as a software developer, haha.

Seriously, I do pride myself in the fact I went to school full time while working at the bar as often as any other employee - 5 nights a week, for over a year.

Pair this with the fact we threw many dozens of people out on my watch without any serious interpersonal altercations. Yes people broke stuff, etc.

But mostly it was about communicating an out.

They were told to leave, first off, and that was in all senses, nonnegotiable.

But, 19 out of 20 times, they were just too drunk to be there. So I always let them know it was no big deal, come back tomorrow night or whatever. Just not now. Downplay it.

If it seemed they didn't want the fun to end, I would slyly make the suggestion to try other places, or to go eat.

I would work with their friends also if possible. Friends sometimes do the physical stuff for you if needed.

Kicking out whole groups is easy usually, as you can sort of stoke the group dynamic to dislike the bar for the perceived injustice. The ones who actually like the bar come back and apologize later in time.

Drunks will bait you, etc. which should be treated as comedy. There is really never a reason to initiate physicality. Certainly not without help either.


Even if you get the first shot in, there’s no guarantee that the persons friend won’t hit you in the back of the head with a bottle of beer and leave you struggling with a nasty concussion. Or the person you hit strikes their head on a hard surface, killing them. Or some cop or DA decides to make an example of your assault case, and you lose your job or have to do jail time. Just because you only intended to throw a punch doesn’t mean things can’t go badly out of hand.


Do bar fights actually happen in this day and age? I’ve hit up bars of ill repute around the world since before I was of legal drinking age, and I’ve only witnessed a single bar fight between two grumpy locals in rural New Zealand.


My friends brother was hospitalized around 2 years ago after getting into one, he’s fine now. I’ve had a number of drunk angry people try to start things with me and my friends, but we’re all too polite and apologetic to get into a fight.

One guy, who very drunkenly threw a punch at a friend (and missed) for unknowingly taking his chair even told us that his mother had just died and he only went out to the bar to punch somebody.


Not sure how far back this day and age goes. I was bitten on the finger (and probably lightly punched on the face) ca. 1979 stepping in between a man in his thirties, likely coked up, and a weedy law student he was about to hit. That was in downtown Washington. In the early 1980s I saw a guy get knocked down and kicked in the face outside a bar in the DC suburbs. In the 2007, I saw a guy get beat up by two other guys outside a bar in Vienna, somewhere between the Ring and the Prater. The first two were late at night, the latter was in broad daylight. (I had suggested to my wife that we stop at a cafe a bit farther from where there were drunks talking loudly. She ignored the suggestion and was greatly surprised at the fight.)


I have personally never been in a bar fight in my life.

But, yes, bar fights still happen regularly.

That said, my experience is:

  1. They are somewhat cultural.  More common in some regions/bars/demographics

  2. They happen more frequently as the night/drinking deepens


But, yes, bar fights still happen regularly.

Where are you going to find regular bar fights? Is it more a US thing, a rural thing, a college town thing? Because despite having spent way too much time in bars in various parts of Europe, I've basically never seen anything escalate beyond shoving and shouting.


My general view is bar fights are more common when there's not a perceived tendency of escalating into knife and gun fights. I don't have data to support it though.

I last saw a bar fight on the north shore of Kauai. I love Kauai, but locals have told me, "there's not much else to do at night other than drink and fight."


My personal observation is that it depends mainly on your culture (nationality?) relationship with drinking.

In some places, drinking is just something that do you do when you go out, in others, it seems like drinking is the goal of going out and they try to get drunk the faster the better.


Even if you are the best-trained fighter in the world, you hit a guy and he could fall and hit his head on something hard and potentially die. It's not that uncommon. Most of the time, the best option is to leave the situation.


#4 the right answer, but many people jump to aggression. I clearly remember in college where I was pushed into a rather built gentleman while holding two drinks in a crowded bar. He was immediately ready to drop everything and fight about it. But backed down immediately with a simple, "Hey, sorry man." There's a certain class of person who would just keep escalating.


What I learned after 20 years of combat training in a dojo (full body fights) is that 3 seconds of inattention and my 4 years old son kicked me in my testicles after missing the ball. It is a miracle he now has a brother.

#4 is great, your ability to run a 400 meters in 70 s is awesome too.

Do not get into fights if there is any way to avoid them (including begging).

I you have to fight to full throttle and be the one to hit first.


> It seems that resolution of the dispute caused the symptoms to subside. What I haven’t noodled out yet is whether eliminating the stressor of litigation also eliminated the stimulus of psychosomatic subjective complaints, or whether eliminating that stressor triggered some sort of objective change in the person’s physical condition.

Or the client greatly exaggerated the "symptoms" for personal gain and thus doesn't have to fake it anymore. I've had many friends/family members reportedly fake (or greatly exaggerate) injuries, sue, and then brag about it afterwards. It seems incredibly common in the United States.


In the case of minor car accidents it does seem to be the common practice. I also feel that insurance companies have raised prices so high it could be argued that you'd be foolish not to do the same.

I live in Vancouver, Canada where the average car insurance per month is around 200$.


> In the case of minor car accidents it does seem to be the common practice.

No, it's common practice that you can sue for pretty much anything, not just car accidents. Most of the fraud that I have seen did not involve car accidents but stupid, mundane things like slip and falls or whatever. I also have a customer of mine that is basically a "professional victim" that serially looks for people to sue (this lady's super lazy). I've also seen startups almost go out of business because of software patent trolling. This behavior is not just limited to car accidents, believe me.

> I also feel that insurance companies have raised prices so high it could be argued that you'd be foolish not to do the same.

It can also be argued that the insurance rates are high AS A RESULT OF many lawyers/people are gaming a system that is easily gamed.

> that you'd be foolish not to do the same.

I'd argue that it's ethically wrong to do so.


I find this amazing -- the half a dozen or so bar fights to which I've been "witness" (yes, I had a dissolute period in my life) were over pretty much immediately: one swing, perhaps a response, and that was it.

The reason I put the word "witness" in quotation marks is that in only one case did I see the first swing being taken. Otherwise there was commotion and I'd turn and see someone on the floor, or two guys grabbing each other and bystanders pulling them apart.

Note I said "amazing" not "implausible" -- my experience is only mine, and I am sure there are those who lead a more exciting life than mine.


The article fully supports your characterization of bar fights? You seem to think that its opinion differs from yours.


It does seem that way from my reading: “Typically, the loser of a bar fight who later initiates a lawsuit has been beaten up pretty badly” and fights lasting “less than 60 seconds” (I’m thinking less than 10 seconds).

But the author is talking about ones that lead to litigation, presumably a minority but one which is by definition self-selecting.

I also hadn’t considered people trying to get back in after being chucked out (which does seem to happen in a surprising number of cases) as “bar fight” though I can imagine that also leads to litigation and is all the same from the insurance company’s POV.

In any case these days I tend to drink in a higher class of joint (excepting Antonio’s in Palo Alto where I still go)


What I've learned in 25 years on this earth is to avoid fights and conflict as much as possible, especially physical conflict. The cost benefit ratio just doesn't add up for me in any scenario, unless my life is on the line.


I wonder how situations like this play out in countries where CCTV is everywhere.




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