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Halifax Alehouse security guard's actions caused death of man, lawsuit alleges

Ryan Sawyer died in hospital on Dec. 24, 2022, after being found unconscious outside the Halifax Alehouse.  (Scott and Lee Sawyer - image credit)
Ryan Sawyer died in hospital on Dec. 24, 2022, after being found unconscious outside the Halifax Alehouse. (Scott and Lee Sawyer - image credit)

The actions of a security guard at a downtown Halifax bar led to the death of a man on Christmas eve in 2022, according to one of two civil lawsuits filed by the man's family against the bar and a former employee.

Ryan Sawyer died in hospital after being found unconscious on the street in front of the Halifax Alehouse in the early hours of Dec. 24.

One lawsuit filed on behalf of the estate of Sawyer by his parents names the Alehouse and former security guard Alexander Levy as defendants.

"Levy intentionally assaulted Ryan, by, amongst other things, choking Ryan until and after he lost consciousness," the lawsuit says.

The death of Sawyer resulted from the Alehouse's negligence in employing Levy, when the bar "knew or should have ought to know he posed a risk to the safety of customers and visitors," the lawsuit says.

The lawyer representing the Alehouse said they won't comment while the matter is in front of the courts. The Sawyers declined an interview request.

Ryan was best friends with his twin brother, Kyle, who he lived with in Ontario, his parents say. They did everything together like play sports and go see Marvel movies.
Ryan was best friends with his twin brother, Kyle, who he lived with in Ontario, his parents say. They did everything together like play sports and go see Marvel movies.

Kyle Sawyer, Ryan's twin brother, was with Ryan the night he died. In a lawsuit, Kyle alleges security guards attacked him. (Scott and Lee Sawyer)

Kyle Sawyer, Ryan's brother, was with Ryan the night he died and has also filed a lawsuit against the Alehouse. In it, he alleges security guards stomped and punched his head and body.

The assault on Kyle Sawyer was done in a "harsh, malicious, reprehensible" manner, the lawsuit says.

The allegations in the lawsuits have not been proven in court.

Statements of defence

The Alehouse has filed statements of defence in both lawsuits and denies any wrongdoing.

In both matters, the Alehouse denies the Sawyer brothers were customers at the bar on the evening of Dec. 23 or the morning of Dec. 24.

Ryan and Kyle Sawyer provoked the incident and attacked security, the statements of defence say.

The statements both say the brothers were trespassing on the property and they each struck security when the Sawyers were asked to leave.

The security guards employed by the Alehouse at the time of the incident were properly trained and "acted reasonably on the date in question," a statement of defence says.

Charges and other allegations

The lawsuits are the latest legal action against the Halifax Alehouse and staff.

Levy, 38, has been charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death in the relation to the death of Ryan Sawyer.

Those charges have not been proven in court. Levy elected trial by jury earlier this month but a date hasn't been set.

Alexander Levy at Halifax provincial court on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023.
Alexander Levy at Halifax provincial court on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023.

Alexander Levy was arrested in August after he turned himself in. Police confirmed Levy worked in security at the Halifax Alehouse at the time of Sawyer's death. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

In a separate incident, Levy and Matthew Day, 33, are facing charges related to an alleged assault on another Alehouse customer two months before Sawyer died.

That matter is scheduled to go to trial in April.

None of the charges against Levy and Day have been proven in court.

Meanwhile, the Alehouse is facing another civil lawsuit in connection to a third incident in 2022.

In a statement of claim, a patron accuses Alehouse security guards of attacking him on Aug. 14, 2022, leaving him with serious injuries.

The Alehouse alleges the patron provoked staff and that staff acted reasonably during the incident, the statement of defence says.

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