By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Notsuoh Wins Injury Suit
Jury rejects $12 million claim
By John Nova Lomax
The $12,000,000 and 47 cent personal injury lawsuit against Jim Pirtle, Melissa Bosch and their Notsuoh bar is over, and the bar owners won't have to pay a dime.
After several days of testimony, jurors found that attorney Donna Roth's version of events — that Pirtle was responsible for grievous injuries sustained by her client while on the premises of Pirtle's bar — was not credible.
Nathan Fischer, Roth's client, was terribly injured after either falling, jumping or getting pushed off the roof or out of an open window on one of Notsuoh's upper floors in the wee hours of a February 2009 morning. There were no witnesses, and Fischer has never been able to say what happened — he has no recollection of the event. His blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit, and while it was ruled inadmissible as evidence, the jury also heard that he had cocaine and marijuana in his system as well.
"They had no case at all," said a juror who requested anonymity. "It was a travesty that they brought this suit. Nobody should have to go through this."
Pirtle was relieved that his ordeal was over, but shaken by the testimony. "Basically I spent three straight days listening to a bunch of people talk about what a scumbag I am," he says. "His attorney really focused on what a dick I am. I wouldn't wish this on anyone."
"Either [Roth] was naive, or she thought we were stupid," says the juror. "Either she really believed her story or she thought we would, and what she said happened was not possible."
The juror says that case hinged on Fisher falling out of a glassless second- or third-floor window, and that as the facts were presented, those scenarios simply weren't possible.
Someone was seated near the second-floor window and saw nothing. Neither did other people nearby. As for the third-floor window, the jury determined that Fischer was too big to simply fall out of it. The juror thinks it more likely that Fischer jumped, as he was found about ten feet from the building.
The juror believed that Roth attempted to stress the injuries her client has endured — he suffered a brain injury and is now permanently incapacitated — over the facts of how he got them. He believed that she wanted their sympathy for her client to trump their logical reasoning.
The jury didn't buy it.
What's more, a basis of the suit posits that "nothing Fischer did or failed to do in any way contributed to cause the occurrence in question," as if guzzling enough hooch to intoxicate a submarine full of Russian sailors was in no way his own responsibility.
Again, the jury didn't buy it.
Everybody feels bad for Fischer, but what happened to him was not Pirtle's fault, the jury determined. And now Pirtle's ordeal is over.
"I have literally just been through one of the worst weeks in my life," Pirtle declared last week on Facebook. "I was sued for 12 million dollars and 47 cents... I was on trial all week... I wore a suit four days in a row... a personal record... I won and have my life back."
Video Belies HPD's Tale, Attorney Says
By Craig Malisow
Security camera footage taken during a raid at the Treasures strip club shows a Houston Police Department officer shoving gay activist Ray Hill in the chest before other officers surround the 71-year-old, handcuff him and escort him from the premises.
The video of the December 8 incident, which Hill showed to Hair Balls, does not align with court papers claiming that Hill pushed the officer, resulting in Hill's misdemeanor charge of interfering with the duties of a public servant.
Hill's attorney, Stanley Schneider, said he gave a copy of the video to the Harris County District Attorney's Office Monday.
"What the three officers describe in their offense report clearly did not occur on the video," Schneider said.
Hill, who had for decades fought against police harassment of gays and gay clubs and who now brings that same zeal toward, um, titty bars, said he had gone to Treasures the night of December 8 after he received a call about the raid.
The video (which doesn't have sound) shows Hill, who has a prosthetic leg, talking to, or attempting to talk to, an officer holding court in Treasures' foyer, as other officers, patrons and dancers walk in and out of view. Hill's hands are in his pockets, and after about 16 seconds, the officer shoves Hill toward a wall, knocking him off balance. As two other officers swoop in, Hill puts his palm against the chest of one of the officers — a move Hill says he made because he was knocked off balance and afraid he'd fall down.
To Hair Balls, it looks like another one of those instances where someone forgot to remind police officers that cameras are ubiquitous, and it's not like the halcyon days when you could gaffle someone and not wind up on YouTube. Not that this incident rivals the Chad Holley or Patti LaBelle fiascos, but the point is sort of the same.