TA club sued for barring Ethiopian

NIS 550,000 demanded from Galina nightclub for assault and battery, slander and discrimination in September 10 incident.

January 28, 2010 22:18
3 minute read.
The 'Galina' club.

Galina club 311. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

A lawsuit was filed against a popular Tel Aviv nightclub on Thursday, alleging that it refused to admit would-be patron Moti Wudja because he is Ethiopian, and that club security assaulted his friend when he protested.

The suit seeks NIS 550,000 from the Galina nightclub, situated at the Tel Aviv Port, for assault and battery, slander and discrimination in the September 10 incident.

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Six security personnel and employees of the bar are named in the suit, as well as the bar itself and the security agency that employed the guards. The lawsuit also names the Israel Police as a defendant, demanding that it release surveillance footage of the incident.

Aryeh Schwartz, 29, is the friend in question. He told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that there is “no question” in his mind that the incident was racial, and that anyone who witnessed it would say the same thing. “It was obvious to everyone there. They let me in and then a guard put his hand out and stopped Moti. When I asked why, they told me you can go in, but he has to stay outside,” Schwartz said.

He added that a similar incident happened once before, when he invited Wudja to another club for a cousin’s birthday party and Wudja wasn’t let in until Schwartz came outside and asked the bouncers to admit him.

Schwartz said that in September’s incident, he was arguing with a female bouncer at Galina, asking why she had refused Wudja entry, when he was hit in the head from behind and went into shock. It took him several minutes to realize what had happened, which became clear after he saw that his shirt was covered in blood.

Schwartz then saw two uniformed policemen approaching and assumed they were coming to help, only to have them drag him outside and question him.

Schwartz pointed out that he is 180 cm. tall with a broad build, but said he still felt dwarfed by the security guard who hit him.

Minutes after the punch, an ambulance took Schwartz to the hospital in a daze, with severe headaches and bleeding from a cut next to his eye, according to the lawsuit. Doctors thought his eye socket might be broken, but after a CT scan proved negative, they released him.

When asked why he and Wudja waited so long to file the lawsuit, Schwartz said they had wanted to wait until the police finished its investigation, but when they saw that it was not pursuing the case and a criminal indictment wasn’t likely, they decided to go the civil suit route. Schwartz added that at least two police officers witnessed the assault outside the club, as did dozens of other people, who yelled at the cops, asking why they weren’t arresting the security guard.

The lawsuit seeks NIS 550,000, including NIS 150,000 in damages for assault and battery, saying that since the incident, Schwartz has suffered from severe headaches and difficulty in concentrating, both of which have hampered his performance as an accountant. The damages also seek to cover the hospital bills and missed work Schwartz has suffered since the alleged attack.

Wudja seeks NIS 100,000 in damages for “public discrimination and humiliation,” saying that barring him based on his race was a violation of his rights. Schwartz also seeks NIS 100,000 for “public discrimination and humiliation,” because Galina infringed on his ability to enter the club with his friend.

The lawsuit also seeks NIS 100,000 in damages for each plaintiff for slander, relating to an article in Yediot Aharonot in which Galina employees are quoted as saying that the complainants “were involved in a severely violent incident during which a security guard was injured in front of dozens of witnesses.”

The quote was later widely cited on television and radio.

A representative of Galina said on Thursday that the club has not yet received the lawsuit, but will release a statement after it has seen it.

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