One of downtown Nashville's most popular hotspots is facing a lawsuit after a doctor said two bouncers nearly choked him to death all because he and his friends bought drinks at the bar instead of at a table.
The incident at Rippy's Bar and Grill caused such a ruckus bar patrons started calling 911 one right after another.
"We need police, there is a guy choking a guy out," one bar patron told a police dispatcher in a recorded call. "The guy - he's choking - is about 55 years old, and he's wearing a blue T-shirt. And he's trying to kill him."
What was supposed to have been a evening out on the town for the last day of the CMA Music Festival for Dr. Donald Mitchell, his wife and a group of friends allegedly ended with the neuroanesthesiologist in choke hold by Rippy's bouncer Joshua Hightower.
Mitchell and his wife have filed a $4.5 million lawsuit against Rippy's, its parent company RSF Investors, LLC and bouncers Joshua Hightower and Justin Shatto.
According to the lawsuit, the trouble began when the Mitchell party started ordering drinks from the bar instead of at their table. This is an apparent no-no, according to house rules. Then, the party's waitress asked if she could cash out their tab because she would be soon leaving their area, and they paid the tab even before their food arrived. The lawsuit then said since no other member of the waiting staff assisted them, the party opened a new tab at the bar.
The Mitchells claim Hightower then "slapped a drink out of Mitchell's hand." After the doctor stood up, he said he was "dragged, spun around and put in a choke hold."
Hightower allegedly told Mitchell it was time for "(Mitchell) to go to sleep," and the lawsuit claims the choke hold was with such "extreme force" the doctor "lost consciousness and went limp."
"There is no reason why a bouncer should be putting their hands on somebody in the manner they did, much less choking them - not just once, but multiple times - to unconsciousness," said Mitchell's attorney, Joey Fuson.
According to the lawsuit, Mitchell's wife, who is a registered nurse, his friends and even some other bar patrons tried to convince the bouncer to release Mitchell from that choke hold, but when he allegedly refused, they started calling 911 out of fear for his safety.
David Lyons, an attorney for Rippy's, said Mitchell and his party were overly aggressive and refused to leave when asked.
"Dr. Mitchell was the first aggressor. He's the instigator to this incident," Lyons said. "It's just unfortunate that a doctor would be so angry and aggressive as to put himself in a situation that he had to be subdued by the security of Rippy's."
After the alleged incident, Mitchell was arrested for simple assault, but a judge later dismissed the charges.
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