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Shooting victim sues Mucky Duck

- Bouncers had been drinking, aggravated fight, suit claims

By KELLY NIX

Published: September 16, 2011

A MAN who was shot outside the Mucky Duck in Monterey early New Year’s Day has filed a lawsuit against the bar alleging it had inadequate security and that bouncers aggravated a volatile confrontation and were responsible for a suspected gang member opening fire on a crowd of people.

In a lawsuit filed Sept. 7, shooting victim Todd Graham claims the Mucky Duck was negligent in the 2011 shooting at the bar at 479 Alvarado St. Alejandro Gonzalez, 23, of Greenfield was later arrested and charged with the shooting that injured Graham and two bouncers.

“Had the [Mucky Duck] hired adequate security guards with proper training to handle the events by diffusing the situation or calling police, [Graham] would not have been injured,” according to the claim filed in Monterey County Superior Court.

Graham suffered serious injuries after being shot in the abdomen and left forearm. He underwent surgery at Regional Medical Center of San Jose and was hospitalized for nine days, his attorney, Christopher Panetta, told The Pine Cone.

Graham is seeking an unspecified amount of damages for his “great mental, physical and nervous pain and suffering” which will result in “some permanent disability to him.” He also wants compensation for medical expenses and loss of earnings. And, because the Mucky Duck’s conduct was “wanton, willful and malicious,” he wants to be paid punitive damages.

At the time of the incident, the Mucky Duck was owned by John and Eric Waddell, who operated The Mucky Duck, LLC. After closing in May, the bar has since reopened under new ownership.

“The lawsuit is filed against the previous owner, The Mucky Duck, LLC, the entity that owned the bar at the time of the shooting,” Panetta said.

‘Escalated situation’

Graham’s lawsuit provides new details about the notorious New Year’s shooting. It alleges that sometime after midnight on Jan. 1, an altercation between several patrons and bouncers occurred inside the bar. After the fight, bouncers ejected “two Hispanic females,” the lawsuit says. In the midst of the argument, one of the Mucky Duck’s bouncers “knocked a drink” from a patron believed to have been Gonzalez, whom the lawsuit describes as a gang member.

“This is a sign of disrespect in gang culture, and caused the situation to escalate,” according to Graham’s high-powered attorneys, Panetta and Chuck Keller of Fenton & Keller.

As a result of the insult, Gonzalez then yelled “Norte!” — a reference to the Norteños street gang, according to the suit. But the bouncers, who are not named in the suit, didn’t handle the situation well, according to the claim.

“Instead of ignoring this obvious attempt to instigate a confrontation,” the suit says, “a Mucky Duck bouncer said ‘That don’t mean shit to me.’ He then challenged Gonzalez to a fight, further escalating the situation.”

After that, several bouncers “jumped on” one of Gonzalez’s friends, pushing him to the ground while “one bouncer punched and kicked the patron in the head while he was restrained on the ground by another bouncer.” The man, trying to break free, said “Let me go! Let me go!,” according to the lawsuit.

During the fight, Gonzalez left the bar, but shortly after he returned with a gun and “in response to the actions of the bouncers, began shooting at the front of the bar,” the suit contends.

Graham, who was leaving the Mucky Duck at the time Gonzalez began firing, was shot. Two bouncers were also struck by bullets. The bouncers also survived their injuries.

Graham “was a bystander and was not involved in the altercation,” Panetta said.

The Mucky Duck, the suit says, was negligent in that it did not “take reasonable steps to ensure the safety” of Graham and “failed to hire adequately trained security guards who allowed known gang activity to go ignored or undetected.”

The suit also claims that all of the bar’s bouncers had been drinking alcohol the night of the shooting.

“One bouncer later admitted that he was so intoxicated he did not remember the particulars of the incident,” according to the lawsuit.

The suit also alleges that between Jan. 1, 2010, and Jan. 8, 2011, there were 28 “police-involved” calls at the Mucky Duck — 12 public intoxication cases, eight battery cases and three fights, according to the lawsuit.

In April, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control filed formal disciplinary charges against the bar.

“The charges state that the Mucky Duck was a trouble spot that required numerous calls, investigations, arrests or patrol by the Monterey Police Department,” that resulted in the alcohol board decision to temporarily suspend the bar’s license to sell alcohol, the lawsuit outlines.