Two years after an attack that broke his jaw in two places while on tour with the Baker’s Dozen a capella group, a Berkeley College junior has reached a settlement in his civil suit.
On Jan. 1, 2007, following his a cappella group’s performance at a San Francisco party, Sharyar Aziz ’10 and other members of the Baker’s Dozen said they were taunted with homophobic slurs. Aziz sustained a broken jaw in two places after being kicked and punched repeatedly. Felony charges against the alleged assailants were dropped last April, but a civil suit Aziz filed two months after the attack was settled Thursday in a California court.
In a case that garnered national media attention, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris filed criminal charges in March 2007 against two of the four attackers for allegedly assaulting two other members of the Baker’s Dozen, but not Aziz, despite the fact that he suffered the most severe injuries in the kerfuffle. In response, the Aziz family filed a civil suit against all four attackers.
Aziz said Thursday his civil suit case was settled against his personal attackers, Richard, Michael and James Aicardi. Brian Dwyer, the fourth man originally named in the civil suit, was dropped from the case earlier due to contradictory accounts of the attack.
“I am happy we can all move on,” Aziz said in a telephone interview.
When the lawsuit was first filed, Richard Aicardi’s attorney, Frank Passaglia, called the altercation a “mutual combat situation fueled by alcohol.” But Thursday, Aziz’s attorney, Whitney Leigh, asserted that the settlement “puts to bed the notion that this was some mutual combat assault.”
Aziz and his attorneys would not disclose the financial terms of the settlement, and Aziz’s attorneys stressed the suit was not about money, but rather justice. Yet Leigh acknowledged the financial settlement Aziz will be paid is “significant.”
The settlement also includes an apology from the attackers. In their three-paragraph apology, which Leigh provided to the News, the Aicardi brothers’ lawyer said: “My clients … accept responsibility for the role they played in this incident and apologize to Mr. Aziz for any part they played in causing his injuries.” (The attorney for Dwyer issued a similar apology on behalf of his client.)
Neither attorney responded to telephone messages Thursday evening.
In a telephone interview, Leigh said the apologies were issued through the defendants’ attorneys because the defendants continue to face possible criminal liability in the case from misdemeanor charges that remain pending against Dwyer and Richard Aicardi.
Leigh said the criminal charges against Richard Aicardi, the other attacker against whom criminal charges were lodged, will be dismissed if he completes a community service program.
A representative from the San Francisco Office of the District Attorney’s declined to comment when reached by telephone Thursday evening.
In the interview Thursday, Aziz, who is also a member of Yale’s men’s squash team, expressed relief that the civil suit helped hold his attackers responsible, even if he and the other members of his a cappella group did not succeed in pursuing the felony criminal charges.
“I think that the Baker’s Dozen and myself were disappointed that we did not get as far as we would have in the criminal system,” Aziz said. “But I can tell you through this civil process justice has been served.”
Hyatt Bailey ’10, another member of the Baker’s Dozen who was present at the attack, said he was also relieved at the settlement.
“I think all of us are glad that Sharyar’s portion of the case is closed,” he said.
Victor Zapana contributed reporting.