Crime & Courts

Pour House, owner named in lawsuit stemming from choking of USC student

Student breaks jaw, teeth after put in sleeper hold and thrown to ground in Five Points

While USC computer information systems major Ryan Chisolm was standing in front of the Pour House bar, an unidentified man grabbed him from behind and placed him in a choke hold, causing him to pass out, and throw him to the ground, breaking his j
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While USC computer information systems major Ryan Chisolm was standing in front of the Pour House bar, an unidentified man grabbed him from behind and placed him in a choke hold, causing him to pass out, and throw him to the ground, breaking his j

A Five Points bar that was recently deemed a public nuisance and its owner were sued Wednesday in connection with the choking of a University of South Carolina student last month.

The lawsuit, filed in Richland County circuit court, alleges the bar has an established pattern of negligence dating back to 2006, including under a previous owner. The suit names Daniel Halsey Wells, the Pour House, BB&A Entertainment and Wells Fargo as defendants.

In the complaint, Wells also is accused of battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment of student Ryan Chisolm.

On March 19 , Ryan Chisolm was standing outside the Pour House after being pushed out of the bar. A man standing behind Chisolm placed a choke hold on 22-year-old until he became unconscious, then hurled him to the pavement. Chisolm landed on his face, breaking some of his teeth while others were pushed into his gums. The incident was captured on video by a bystander and on street surveillance cameras.

Columbia police investigators later identified and arrested Wells in the attack. Wells, the 29-year-old bar owner, is charged with the felony offense of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

“We are still pursuing justice for Ryan and hope that with the lawsuit we can prevent things like this from happening in the future,” said Justin Bamberg, Chisolm’s attorney and a state legislator who represents Bamberg County.

Well’s civil attorney, Mike Montgomery, would not comment on the complaint, saying that he was not aware of a lawsuit being filed.

The suit alleges that since Wells took over the Pour House in 2014, the bar has continued serving alcoholic beverages excessively to patrons and has allowed underage drinking and drug use. Employees are permitted to use excessive physical force against patrons, according to the suit that also contends discrimination in admission practices for minority groups.

The complaint highlights that Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook declared the Pour House a public nuisance earlier this month citing a series of incidents. Several incidents listed in the complaint include arrests and citations for publicly disorderly conduct, grossly intoxicated person, resisting arrest, underage drinking, fake identification, fighting and assault.

The State newspaper also reviewed eight months of police records and found the bar served alcohol after hours 10 times and had been the site of fights more than a dozen times.

The suit contends racial and ethnic discrimination by denying entry to those without a Carolina Card, the USC-issued identification card for students. The suit does not offer specific evidence of such discrimination.

But the suit also alleges discriminatory practices by the previous operator of the bar, BB&A Entertainment – whose registered agent was listed in the complaint as Hans Robert Brown.

Wells Fargo at first leased the property at 800 Harden St. to BB&A Entertainment was scheduled to end on June 30, 2018, according to the suit. But in August 2014, the building was instead subleased to the DHW Purchasing Group, whose agent is listed as Wells.

In the sublease agreement, BB&A Entertainment “retained the right to enter the subject property,” which, according to the lawsuit, is evidence that they wanted to “exercise a degree of control, management, responsibility or oversight” of the Pour House.

Staff writer Clif LeBlanc contributed to this story.

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