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Strip club patron stabbed in the heart by security, lawsuit says

A strip club is seen on a San Francisco street.
A man alleges he was stabbed in the heart by a bouncer outside the New Century Theater in September 2022. | Source: Google Street View

A strip club customer is suing San Francisco's New Century Theater, alleging he was stabbed in the heart by a security guard as he was thrown out of the premises, a lawsuit filed Tuesday says.

Arnulfo Arias was visiting the strip club at 816 Larkin St. on Sept. 23, 2022, when he got into a confrontation with security outside the strip club after being thrown out at around 2:30 a.m.

A security guard stabbed him in the heart, leaving Arias with long-lasting health and physical symptoms, the suit claims. His symptoms are not listed in court documents, but he is said to be permanently disabled.

Arias has been unable to work as a result of the injuries and lost an unspecified amount in wages, the suit alleges.

While the suit claims he is permanently disabled, Arias' attorney, Jeffrey J.A. Hinrichsen, said his client has recovered physically but has ongoing mental health issues following the alleged attack.

"Fortunately, he has recovered from the physical trauma, but his mental state may be something else," Hinrichsen said.

The attorney also said the security guards in the suit were not licensed to work the doors.

Hinrichsen said medical records from San Francisco General Hospital say that Arias was stabbed in the "left anterior chest wall."

Arias received a $96,933 bill from San Francisco General Hospital after being treated for the alleged stabbing, according to Hinrichsen, although he did not know to what extent the bill was covered by his client's insurance.

Arias' brother, Alfredo Arias, said they both visited the strip club after both doing roofing work on a home near Santa Rosa, adding that they had not visited the club since at least 2017 before their 2022 visit.

Alfredo said the altercation began after he grabbed an energy drink from a refrigerator near the bar and went to a nearby cash register to pay around 2:30 a.m., when a club staff member said that he couldn't grab drinks out of the cooler because they had stopped serving drinks at that time.

A strip club is seen on a San Francisco street.
A man alleges he was stabbed in the heart by a bouncer outside the New Century Theater in September 2022. | Source: Google Street View

Alfredo said he paid by tossing cash on the counter in front of a female staffer, who was apparently offended by the way he paid and called security to escort him and Arnulfo out.

Alfredo said he was dazed after he was punched in the nose and had his head thrown against a wall by a bouncer. He said he did not see Arnulfo get stabbed or see a bouncer holding a knife but believed the stabbing happened outside, where he later saw his brother suffering from a stab wound. Arnulfo was contacted for comment but did not respond.

"He kept saying, 'They got me. They got me, man,'" Alfredo said.

Seven police officers responded to the nightclub at 3:35 a.m. to a report of a stabbing, where an officer noticed Arnulfo suffering from an apparent stab wound between 1 and 2 inches long on the left side of his chest, a police report obtained by The Standard said.

Alfredo suffered an "abrasion to nose," according to the police report.

The report also said officers interviewed Arnulfo, who told officers he exited the bathroom and saw an altercation between Alfredo and club security. Arnulfo said the altercation became a physical fight and he tried to break up the fight and defend himself, after which one of the bouncers stabbed him in the chest.

The report said officers interviewed the club's general manager at the time, Johnson Huang, who said a man grabbed one of the girls and threw money at her face. After that, the pair were asked to leave but refused to. Huang could not be reached for comment.

The suit demands damages beyond $25,000 but does not further specify the amount. The damages are for physical pain, mental suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, wage loss, loss of earning capacity and medical expenses.

Joe Carouba, who owns the New Century Theater, said he has not been served the lawsuit and declined to comment.

Garrett Leahy can be reached at garrett@sfstandard.com