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updated: 9/16/2013 5:45 PM

Man seeks damages from Gilberts bar, bouncer in alleged beating

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A 46-year-old man is seeking damages from a Gilberts bar and its owners, arguing he was beaten without provocation by a bouncer 20 months ago, according to a lawsuit filed in Kane County.

William Hemmings seeks unspecified damages from The Point Bar and Grill, 38 E. Higgins Road, and bartender/bouncer Eric Bender from an altercation on Jan. 7, 2012, in which Bender continued to strike Hemmings after he was escorted out of the bar and knocked down to the sidewalk, the lawsuit argues.

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One of Bender's attorneys called the lawsuit "frivolous," and noted Bender was acquitted of criminal charges in a trial that showed Hemmings as the aggressor in the bar fracas.

According to the suit, Hemmings' wife, Catherine, begged with Bender to stop, but he struck William Hemmings when while he was down. Hemmings was being escorted out of the bar after a "disagreement" with another patron, the lawsuit stated.

Kevin McCarty, the attorney representing Hemmings, said his client suffered multiple facial fractures, has permanent injuries, recurring headaches and was hospitalized for more than a week.

"He was blindsided outside the bar. Let's put it this way, Mr. Bender sustained no injuries except for a bruised hand," McCarty said.

Bender, 28, of Pingree Grove, was charged criminally, with four counts of aggravated battery, about a month after the bar incident. Judge Timothy Sheldon found Bender found not guilty in a July 2012 bench trial or all charges.

Messages left for Bender at The Point last week and Monday were not returned.

Todd Cohen, who was Bender's defense attorney in the criminal case, said trial testimony indicated Hemmings showed up at the bar drunk, began harassing younger female patrons and tried to choke one of them -- an act that was caught on video.

After that happened, a group of patrons dragged Hemmings outside, where his wife and friend came to walk him home, Cohen said.

"Mr. Bender didn't have anything to do with (Hemmings' injuries). This man was the aggressor the entire time," Cohen said, adding that he didn't know how Hemmings was allegedly injured.

The lawsuit also names Rocio Bender, Bender's mother and part owner in the bar, as a defendant, claiming she should have known about Bender's "violent tendencies" and was negligent in hiring him. Information about the Benders' attorney for the lawsuit was not immediately available.

McCarty said Bender's exoneration in the criminal case will have no effect on the lawsuit. "We believe Eric Bender has had these problems and has not been properly supervised," McCarty said. "Comparing the criminal to the civil proceeding would be comparing apples to oranges. Different (legal theories), different standard of proof."

The case is due in court on Nov. 21.

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