CALGARY — The family of a pro football player gunned down outside a Calgary bar has filed a lawsuit against the nightclub and its staff alleging they let a disagreement over a spilled drink escalate into a shooting.
Mylan Hicks, a 23-year-old player from Detroit who was on the Calgary Stampeders’ practice roster, was shot and killed outside the Marquee Beer Market on Sept. 25, 2016.
A verdict in the second-degree murder trial of Nelson Lugela is scheduled for Monday.
The family’s statement of claim alleges Marquee and an unnamed supervisor were “vicariously liable for the actions and negligence of its employees and agents.”
“Marquee essentially has a duty of care to ensure that all of the patrons that visit their premises are reasonably safe for the reasons that they’re there,” said Calgary lawyer Petrina Wallebeck, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Hicks’s estate as well as his mother Renee Fowkles-Hill and father Reggie Hill in Detroit.
“There is essentially a series of events … that indicate they would have fallen below that standard of care.”
The murder trial heard that several players, including Hicks, were celebrating a victory over Winnipeg in a Canadian Football League game hours earlier. A disagreement inside the bar over a spilled drink intensified in the parking lot after closing time.
Witnesses testified that after some pushing and shoving, an individual appeared holding a handgun and opened fire at Hicks, who was hit in the abdomen and chest, and died later in hospital.
“No staff members, employees or agents of Marquee intervened and the altercation continued to escalate,” reads the statement. “The altercation continued into the parking lot in front of Marquee where Mylan was shot and killed.”
None of the allegations has been proven in court and a statement of defence has not been filed. Marquee Beer Market did not respond to a request for comment.
Wallebeck said the family is asking for the maximum allowed under Alberta legislation — about $82,000 in bereavement damages.
“It’s certainly not a monetary windfall. It’s more holding all parties that had responsibility for this event accountable,” said Wallebeck.
“It’s a matter of principle, certainly on an overarching policy level, in terms of making sure a bar or a club changes their policy and procedure to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future.”
Wallebeck said it’s important to Hicks’s family that he didn’t die in vain.
“The parents essentially were fine with him coming here and basically lent us that talent and this young man lost his life.” she said.
“It feels like it was on our watch and whatever we can do to make sure that the bar is held responsible. It helps the family going forward with our city basically helping other establishments change their ways.”
— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press