PHILADELPHIA, April 15, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A $7 million settlement, believed to be the largest settlement for an individual bar liability case in Philadelphia history, has been reached with two clubs on behalf of the estate of 23-year-old fatal beating victim Kevin Kless, it was announced today by Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, P.C. The Firm represented the estate of the popular corporate risk management professional and Temple University Fox Business School graduate.
Robert J. Mongeluzzi, of SMBB, said no amount of money can reimburse the family of Mr. Kless for their loss. However, he stated, "In Kevin's name, they have successfully and resoundingly delivered a message to the two bar-defendants, Lucy's Hat Shop and G Lounge, that if you serve underage, drunken patrons, and they leave your bar and commit a heinous crime, you will be held accountable for your actions."
The circumstances leading to Mr. Kless's vicious beating death were detailed in the 2013 wrongful death complaint (AUGUST TERM, 2013 No. 002395) filed against Lucy's Hat Shop (247 Market St.), G Lounge (111 S.17 St.) and the three attackers. The suit alleged that the bars, through the conduct of their employees, were responsible for the actions of Kenneth Enriquiz-Santiago, Steven Ferguson, and Felix Carrillo in the early morning hours of January 14, 2012. The men, all serving prison sentences for their roles in the killing, were served past the point of intoxication, and two of the three were underage.
It was Ferguson who delivered the fatal blow with his fist to the head of Kless, who they left for dead on the sidewalk in Old City, near Lucy's. The unprovoked attack began when Kless was attempting to hail a cab and the drunken trio pulled up in a car alongside him.
Several witnesses testified that the bars continued to serve alcohol to the three assailants beyond the point of "visible intoxication", in violation of Pennsylvania's liquor code. Two of the three men - Enriquiz-Santiago and Carrillo - were under Pennsylvania's legal drinking age at the time that the bars admitted and then served them.
"Our son would be alive today if those bars – their managers and their employees - had just followed the law, starting with denying entry to minors," said John and Kendall Kless, Kevin's parents. "We intend to ensure that all bar owners understand that if they serve underage or intoxicated customers who cause harm, they will be held accountable and could be put out of business. We hope that this lawsuit will spur the industry to follow the laws, which are in place for a reason, and spare any other family from suffering the devastating, preventable loss we have endured." Pennsylvania's liquor liability laws – known as Dram Shop legislation – hold bar owners civilly responsible for serving alcohol to underage or visibly intoxicated patrons.
Joseph G. DeAngelo, Mr. Mongeluzzi's co-counsel, noted that if the case was presented to a jury, a "mountain of credible testimony", including that of Lucy's and G Lounge's managers and employees, would have been devastating. Mr. DeAngelo said that testimony would have indicated that these bars routinely ignored Pennsylvania's liquor service laws, creating a situation ripe for violence and tragedy. "For example," he said, "Lucy's bar manager indicated under oath that on any given weekend night a strikingly large percentage of the patrons are drunk beyond the point of visible intoxication such that they appear to be out of control of their actions. This tragedy represents the classic scenario of a horrific, deadly event just waiting to happen."
Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, P.C. also has the largest verdict in a dram shop case in Pennsylvania history, $75.6 Million, awarded to Joseph Tuski against the Ivyland Café in 2004.
SOURCE Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett, & Bendesky, P.C.