Missoula MT June 13 2017 A man is suing the Missoula Club after one of the bar's bouncers allegedly assaulted him while yelling homophobic comments.
The lawsuit, filed on May 30, accuses the Missoula Club and one of the bar's bouncers of discriminating against a gay man who suffered a broken nose, dislocated shoulder, torn rotator cuff, and cuts and bruises in the alleged assault. Reece Pierce went to Providence-St. Patrick Hospital Emergency Room for treatment of his injuries, according to the suit.
According to a Missoula City police report filed on May 6, Ryan Blume allegedly punched the man in the back of the head, pushed him against a wall and threw him to the ground outside the Missoula Club shortly after midnight. Missoula police issued Blume a citation but was not taken into custody. He is next scheduled to appear in Missoula City Court on July 11, according to court records.
The lawsuit, which termed the assault a "hate-based attack," said the "openly gay" man was with a group at the Missoula Club when one of his friends got into an argument. The group was leaving the bar when Blume, one of the bar's bouncers, began shouting homophobic names at the man, according to the suit.
The lawsuit said Blume slammed Pierce's head to the sidewalk several times while making derogatory comments.
Nate McConnell, the man's attorney, said the bouncer's actions were a violation of the city's non-discrimination ordinance.
The ordinance was the first in the state to explicitly protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, said Kim Abbott, co director of the Montana Human Rights Network.
Missoula City Attorney Jim Nugent said he is not aware of any other civil case that cited or relied on the ordinance since it was adopted in April 2010.
On Monday, Nugent said his office is still investigating the incident to determine whether it should be referred to the Missoula County Attorney for a felony criminal assault charge.
Missoula Chief Deputy County Attorney Jason Marks said an aggravated assault charge, the felony version of assault under Montana law, requires serious bodily injury or fear of serious injury or death, which can be difficult to prove, Marks said. It is not unusual for the city to ask the county to review a case weeks after an incident, Marks said.
Montana law makes it a felony to assault someone because of their race, creed, religion, color, national origin, or involvement in civil rights or human rights activities, but neither gender expression nor sexual orientation is protected under that law, Nugent said. Sentencing enhancements for hate crimes also would not apply in this case, Nugent said.
Pierce is asking that the bar pay his medical bills and lost wages, according to the suit. He also seeks punitive damages.