Volume Dispute Led to Fatal Beating, Widow Says

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AKRON, Ohio (CN) – A widow claims in a wrongful-death lawsuit that a nightclub DJ punched her husband to death for complaining about his loud music.

Stacy Horinger-Ryan, the widow of Forrest Ryan, sued 65-year-old Robert Jarvis, the Zodiac Club and its landlord, Clara Ann Masiella, in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas on Friday.

Ryan entered the Akron club on Jan. 7, 2016, which was a Thursday and ladies night. He was a regular patron, according to the lawsuit.  Jarvis was spinning tunes and running a karaoke machine.

After midnight, Jarvis and Ryan got into a verbal spat. Police said the volume of the music was “one factor in the argument,” according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Ryan then walked out onto the patio, where the situation went from bad to worse.

“Without provocation, Jarvis followed Forrest onto the patio and struck Forrest repeatedly in the head with his fists,” the complaint states. “Approximately 19 seconds after being initially struck by Jarvis, Forrest collapsed to the ground.”

Less than 45 minutes later, Ryan was pronounced dead at Akron General Medical Center.

The autopsy showed he died from a hemorrhage and brain swelling due to blunt force trauma, according to the lawsuit.

Medical records also showed that Forrest suffered multiple facial and head fractures during the brawl, the Plain Dealer reported.

Jarvis, a retired teacher, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and is serving a four-year prison term.

“It was a bar fight,” Judge Todd McKenney reportedly said as he handed down the sentence. “He didn’t go to the bar to work as a DJ intending to kill Mr. Ryan.”

Jarvis said at the sentencing hearing that Ryan was his friend and that he wished he could bring him back.

Ryan’s widow alleges the attack was not an isolated incident of violence by a Zodiac Club employee.

“In the twenty-four months preceding Jarvis’s unprovoked attack on Forrest, there were at least four other incidents of violence involving both employees/agents of Zodiac and patrons of Zodiac,” her complaint states.

She sued all the defendants for wrongful death on behalf of Ryan’s children. She also brought claims of assault and battery against Jarvis, and negligence and premises liability against the Zodiac Club and Masiella.

The widow seeks at least $25,000 plus punitive damages. Attorney Megan Frantz Oldham of the Canton law firm Tzangas Plakas Mannos Ltd. is representing the Ryan family.

The Zodiac Club did not respond Wednesday to an online request for comment.