NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – A multi-million dollar settlement was reached last month in the case of a man nearly beaten to death outside a popular Neptune Beach bar.
Joshua Mathews' family and attorney opened up Wednesday about the ordeal Mathews has endured since the incident that changed his life forever -- and the tough road ahead.
Mathews, 36, was critically injured and suffered a traumatic brain injury after he was punched in the face and hit his head on the cement outside Pete's Bar on 1st Street in 2012.
Nearly six years later, simple things like walking and talking give him trouble. He needs the help of a cane to get around. Speech, something most people take for granted, presents a bigger challenge.
"He's not ever going to be as good as he was," said his wife, Lauren Mathews. "He really struggles physically a lot, he gets really tired, he can't talk very well."
By all accounts, Mathews was an innocent bystander who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was beaten up, according to his attorney, Michael Pajcic of Pajcic & Pajcic.
Mathews wound up in a coma for two months following the beating. To this day, he's still recovering and continues to undergo rehabilitation for the brain injury.
An employee who answered the phone at Pete's declined to comment.
Pajcic filed a lawsuit against Pete's parent company, Jensens Liquor Store Inc., in May 2013. The complaint claimed the bar did not have adequate security and that bouncers instigated the fight. It argued the ordeal could have been avoided had the bar properly trained its security staff.
The case went to trial and, in 2016, a jury awarded Mathews an $18,740,000 judgment. A judge reduced that verdict to $11,244,000 after finding Mathews was partly at fault because he was intoxicated.
Joshua Mathews is unable to speak after suffering a traumatic brain injury during a fight outside Pete's Bar in 2012.
After an appeal, though, Pajcic and the insurance company for Pete's reached a deal on a multi-million dollar settlement. The details of that settlement were not disclosed due to a confidentiality agreement.
"Yes, it is fair," said Pajcic. "And it is fair to Pete's too. Pete's is not going to have to pay a penny. Their insurance company is going to have to pay every dime."
Mathews' injuries left him unable to work. He has already racked up massive medical bills over the last five years. The future promises to be even more expensive, but the settlement will help.
"It means we don't have to worry anymore," his wife told News4Jax.
Police did arrest the man they suspect punched Mathews that fateful night. The charges, however, were later dropped because he claimed self-defense due to the size of the brawl.