One of the co-owners of the Los Angeles restaurant Cinco, where TikToker Bryce Hall got into a physical altercation with waitstaff last October, has filed a lawsuit against Hall alleging assault, battery, and "violence motivated by race."
The complaint, which was filed and provided to BuzzFeed News on Monday, claims the TikToker used racial epithets like "wetback" about co-owner Hernan Fernando during the incident.
Fernando's lawyer told BuzzFeed News the restaurant co-owner suffered "lingering physical and emotional injuries" last year, and that the recent "filing of this civil lawsuit gives Hernan his voice."
In late October, TMZ reported that a fight had broken out between Hall, his friends, and Cinco employees after Hall was told to stop vaping in the restaurant. Smoking and vaping are prohibited in restaurants and bars in LA.
There were conflicting accounts at the time of who initiated the fight. Cinco staff members told TMZ that the influencer and his posse were the ones who ignited the fight. Hall told BuzzFeed News that the restaurant manager at the time "grabbed" him first. A witness who captured the brawl with his phone camera told BuzzFeed News "one of the workers put his hands on" Hall first.
Now, the official complaint filed against Hall alleges the influencer and his posse were the ones who escalated the altercation. BuzzFeed News reached out to Hall and his team for comment on the lawsuit, but didn't immediately receive a response.
Fernando claims in the complaint that Hall taunted him with slurs, threats, and by blowing vape smoke in his face before the physical altercation. When Fernando put his hand on Hall's back to escort him out of the restaurant, Hall's friend Robert "Rory" Fitzpatrick "went berserk," and Hall began attacking the plaintiff, the complaint alleges. Fitzpatrick didn't immediately return a request for comment.
Fernando's attorney, Cheryl Priest Ainsworth, said her client is only now coming forward to tell his side of the story because his "priority" in October was recovering and cooperating with a criminal investigation.
"Bryce Hall made the media rounds immediately after the attack, and despite repeated requests for interviews, Hernan refused to comment. His priority was cooperating with the LAPD investigation, as well as receiving treatment for his injuries," Ainsworth told BuzzFeed News.
"Now that the investigation is over, he simply wants people to know that what Bryce Hall and Rory Fitzpatrick did to him wasn’t right, isn’t acceptable, and they should pay for his injuries."
A major detail alleged in the lawsuit, which was not reported in October, are Fernando's claims that Hall made several racist remarks about Fernando before and during the spat.
The complaint alleges that a server named Griselda had overheard Hall refer to Fernando as "the Mexican" and "a wetback" after he and his friends were told to stop vaping, and after Fernando threatened to close their tab. The complaint also alleges Hall had made violent threats against the bar manager, saying he was going to "body slam her" and "fuck her up" after she had also asked Hall to stop vaping.
The complaint states Fernando sustained "emotional and psychological injuries" from the fight. He's asking Hall to take accountability for his actions and to pay for these injuries.
"Hernan is a business owner of several successful businesses," said Ainsworth, his lawyer. "He’s not looking for a windfall or to become famous. He didn’t ask for any of this to happen to him."
She added that she hopes this legal step will restore justice and "dignity" for her client.
"Defendant Hall and Defendant Fitzpatrick are far from victims, but instead reflect the absolute worst impulses of social media 'influencers' who hope to rack up views and dollar signs by being as obnoxious as possible on a public platform," the complaint says.
"But worse, Defendants’ attack on Mr. Fernando, at the brick and mortar representation of his American dream, was motivated by Mr. Fernando’s race and national origin."