Businessman claims martial arts studio and pub liable for alleged vicious attack by MMA fighters

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Businessman Nathan Tonelli is suing the owner and operator of Squamish’s Chieftain Hotel and Pub and several others, claiming he was severely beaten by a group of notoriously drunken and violent mixed martial artists outside the bar in August 2017.

MMA fighters in a match/Shutterstock

Tonelli filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on June 27, naming Bo & Ke Investment, doing business as the Chieftain Hotel and Pub, staff members Taylor Bruneski, Megan Kass, mixed martial artists Taran Bir and Indroop Virk, and The Sound Martial Arts, along with owners and instructors Wayne Lefebvre, Johnny Thomaidis, Kasey Smith, Vance Shaw and Mike Nasu.

Tonelli claims Bir and Virk and an unidentified John Doe defendant were training at The Sound Martial Arts on August 10, 2017, before drinking to the point of intoxication at the Chieftain that night.

The group allegedly left the pub “with open bottles of alcohol and stood just outside of the front entrance to the Chieftain where they harassed and intimidated and tried to pick fights with passersby and others exiting the Chieftain.”

Tonelli claims he was sucker punched by Bir and beaten unconscious, leaving him with a brain injury and a skull fracture.

Bir, Virk, and the unidentified Doe defendant, according to the lawsuit, “were members of a group of young South Asian men, who were notorious for fomenting fights and acts of violence when drinking together … and enjoyed starting fights with intoxicated strangers in or outside various licensed bars and pubs in the Squamish area. “

Moreover, Tonelli claims the trio’s reputation was well known to Chieftain staff, while The Sound Martial Arts and its instructors allegedly trained them “in the use of potentially lethal MMA [mixed martial arts] fighting techniques, that they knew or ought to have known could kill or seriously injure a member of the public if used irresponsibly, or as an offensive weapon.”

“The Sound Partners owed a duty of care to the Plaintiff and other members of the public to ensure that Taran Bir, Indroop Virk and John Doe were educated and instructed on the ethical responsibilities that being imbued with MMA skills entailed, including not using those skills irresponsibly, casually, or offensively against untrained, unskilled or unprepared persons for sport or enjoyment,” the claim states.

Tonelli seeks unspecified damages for assault and battery, breach of duty of care, and negligence. The allegations have not been tested or proven in court and the defendants had not filed responses to the claim by press time.