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After 'Despicable Act,' Court Says Man Can Sue Mich. Bar

Edward Tyson's suit claims no one from BS & Co. called police after he was called n-word, assaulted
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2021 8:25 AM CDT

(Newser) – A Black man who says he was repeatedly called a racial slur and physically attacked outside a Michigan bar by a customer, an incident he says left him with brain damage, is now free to sue the bar after a lower court initially kept him from doing so. The Detroit Free Press reports that, in a ruling released Friday, the Michigan Court of Appeals cleared the way for Edward James Tyson's suit to continue against David Dawkins, the man who pleaded guilty to assaulting him, and Unthank LLC, the owner of the BS & Co. bar in Wolverine. Per Tyson's complaint, he says he arrived at the bar with a friend on Sept. 12, 2015, to pick up a takeout order, but before he could even go inside, two people started calling him the n-word. Tyson says he "expressed his offense at the word," then tried to enter the bar, which is when he says Dawkins stepped in front of him, also called him the n-word, and then hit him, knocking him unconscious "for at least a minute," per the suit.

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Tyson's friend says in the suit that Tyson's head "[bounced] on the concrete" sidewalk. Tyson says he doesn't remember anything else from that night—he says he was left with bleeding on the brain and frontal lobe damage—including after he says he regained consciousness and was attacked again by Dawkins before finally picking up his pizza and leaving. The bar, meanwhile, says it shouldn't be held responsible for the attack because it took place outside. Tyson's lawyer isn't buying that, especially since a bartender working that night testified that Dawkins, who was later arrested, had a reputation as a racist, and because no one at the bar called police (though one night-shift manager says she offered to, but Tyson declined). "It was so obvious that a horrible, despicable act of racial violence was unfolding right in front of them," George T. Sinas tells the Washington Post. "And it was obvious that unless somebody did something this was gonna end badly." (Read more Michigan stories.)

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