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$18M awarded in Pete's Bar fight case

Joshua Mathews suffered traumatic brain injury during fight

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NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – A man who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a 2012 fight at Pete’s Bar in Neptune Beach was awarded a multimillion-dollar settlement last month.

According to court records, Joshua Mathews suffered brain injuries after he was punched in the face and fell to the ground, hitting his head on the cement outside Petes’ Bar in 2012. In May 2013, his attorney, Micheal Pajcic, filed a lawsuit against Jensens Liquor Store Inc., the corporation that owns Pete’s Bar.

The lawsuit alleged that Pete’s Bar didn’t have adequate security staff on hand to prevent the fight and that the bouncers encouraged the fight that led to Mathew’s assault.

In an interview with News4Jax, Pajcic said Mathews was in a coma for two months following the fight. Since then, Mathews has been in rehabilitation.

“One of the main issues he has is speaking,” Pajcic said. “He suffers from aphasia and he also has some weakness, paralysis on the right side of his body, and right-sided vision loss. But, the traumatic brain injury affects everything he does. In fact, because of his brain injury, he even has low energy. He can only do things for a couple of hours a day before he needs to rest.”

Pajcic said Mathews met with a nationally known brain injury doctor who recommended an aphasia program at the University of Michigan. The program hopes to help Mathews with his speaking and communicating. Pajcic said Mathews is “very excited about that.”

As of now, Mathews’ family has to monitor him around the clock, even using video cameras to be able to monitor him on screens while at work.

Pajcic said Mathew’s brain injury affects everything he does.

Pajcic said hopefully the aphasia program will allow Mathews more freedom to not be confined to his home.

During Mathews’ trial, a lot of discussions centered on prior police incident reports. Pajcic said these types of things happen either on the sidewalk or inside the bar. Ultimately, Pajcic said the there was nothing intentionally done by Pete’s Bar, but safety wasn’t as high of a priority as it is to other bars at the beach.

“Other bars had off-duty officers standing out front and they did not on the weekends,” Pajcic said.

Mathew’s case went to trial last week, and on Oct. 25, a jury awarded him over $18 million.

“We feel that they have made the right decision, and hopefully this will allow Josh to have a better life going forward,” Pajcic said. “Hopefully (it) sent a message to bars saying that safety, especially at closing time, especially when patrons are exiting, is important.”