Friday, October 28, 2016

Woman Sues NE Houston Nightclub After 2015 Shooting Claims Husband (Houston, TX)

HOUSTON – The widow of a man fatally shot in the parking lot of a Northeast Houston nightclub last year is suing the establishment, per Harris County District Court records.

Humble resident Sabrina Olarosa-Garcia filed a lawsuit against Escapade Houston Corp. on Oct. 25 on behalf of the late Ruben Acosta Lozano’s children in the Harris County 190th District Court. Rubio Acosta, another child of the decedent, is also a plaintiff in the case.

Per recent court papers, Olarosa-Garcia witnessed the moment her spouse perished on the premises of Escapade 2001 the night of Apr. 10, 2015.

The complaint asserts that the defendant knew the area surrounding the business, located at 11903 Eastex Fwy., was dangerous but failed to take action that would have prevented the Apr. 10, 2015, death of Lozano.

“Within one mile of this entertainment complex, there were numerous previous crimes, that were recent, frequent, similar, and made public to Escapade,” the original petition says.

“This incident was foreseeable to Escapade and the plaintiff was a foreseeable victim of this attack.”

Lozano’s surviving relatives consequently seek unspecified monetary damages.

They are represented by attorney Jeffrey N. Todd of The Law Firm of Alton C. Todd in Friendswood.

Harris County 190th District Court Case No. 2016-73824


Monday, October 24, 2016

Patron Alleges Bar Operators, Employees, Customers Caused Injuries (Huntingtion, WV)

HUNTINGTON — A Mason County man is suing a Huntington bar and its patrons, alleging their negligence caused the plaintiff to be wounded by a gun shot.

Roger Lee Trippett of Glenwood filed a lawsuit Sept. 12 in the Cabell Circuit Court against Whiskey Rocks, Steven Daniel Lynch, John B. Flint, Timothy Paul Miller, Damon Shawn Bailes, et al, alleging failure to maintain a peaceful environment.

According to the complaint, on Sept. 13, 2014, Trippett was a patron at Whiskey Rocks bar in Huntington when an altercation took place followed by a series of gun shots from the defendants. In an attempt to escape the gunfire, the suit says, Trippett made his way to the exit but before reaching the door, he was struck in the abdomen by one of the gun shots caused by the defendants.

The lawsuit states Trippett sustained injuries resulting in paralysis and medical expenses, plus losing the ability to join life. The plaintiff alleges Whiskey Rocks negligently trained and supervised its employees, and the employees acted recklessly and disregarded the safety of their patrons.

Tripplett seeks trial by jury, judgment, jointly and severally for his injuries, plus punitive damages and all other relief deemed appropriate by the court. He is represented by attorney Timothy L. Eves of Eves Law Firm PLLC in Huntington.

Cabell Circuit Court Case number 16-c-585


Judge Issues Order on Fontaine Bleau Lawsuit (Portland, OR)

A pending lawsuit against the city of Portland, alleging a conspiracy against the Fontaine Bleau nightclub will go before a jury – denying motions from the city and individually named plaintiffs to dismiss the conspiracy claims.

The lawsuit names the city, the Portland Police Bureau and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission – as well as Mayor Charlie Hales, former Portland Police Captain Mark Kruger and several individual police officers – as participants in a campaign against Black nightclubs, particularly those playing hip-hop music.

Judge John Acosta’s order does grant relief to the defendants relating to a few aspects of the original complaint. Moving forward, the suit won’t address initial claims that the defendants violated Fontaine Bleau patrons’ right to freedom of association. The initial tort claim also includes several case histories of Black-owned clubs being shuttered by the city, and alleges a historical pattern. Acosta ruled the historical allegations are immaterial to the substance of the case.

“The court finds Plaintiffs’ allegations relating to the City’s treatment of other nightclubs owned by and catering to black individuals, and playing music that attracts primarily black patrons, are material and pertinent. However, Plaintiffs’ purely editorial comments…are not relevant to a nightclub but, rather, relate to the treatment of black citizens of the City in general and are stricken,” the order reads. However, a paragraph of the complaint establishing that music is protected speech will not be stricken from the suit.

But the other motions to dismiss were denied. Attorney Jesse Merithew, who represents DeWalt Productions, which owned the club in the case, told The Skanner he expects to confer next week about scheduling a jury trial.

“We’re happy with it,” Merithew said. “The whole case is still there. We’re looking forward to getting this case before a jury.”

The city of Portland did not respond to a request for comment on this case.

The Fontaine Bleau, owned by African American promoter Rodney DeWalt, closed in 2014 following the fatal shooting of Portland resident Durieul Harris inside the club. The suit alleges the city and police bureau had information about known risks of violence inside the club, but withheld them from DeWalt. The suit also notes the club was blanketed with noise complaints, despite being in an area with very little residential development, and that all the complaints were generated by a single neighborhood resident.

DeWalt Productions seeks economic damages in the amount of $2.5 million, non-economic damages in the amount of $5 million and punitive damages in the amount of $15 million, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs.


Publicist charged in bashing woman with beer bottle at NYC nightclub blames medication (NY, NY)

John Jannarone, 36, was arrested on assault charges for allegedly whacking Princeton grad Erin Jennings over the head repeatedly with a beer bottle at Southside, a pricey lounge.

A financial industry publicist accused of bashing a woman on the head with a beer bottle at a tony Nolita nightclub claims he was unexpectedly incapacitated by a “new medication” that evening, new court documents say.

John Jannarone, 36, was arrested on assault charges in May 2015 for allegedly whacking Princeton grad Erin Jennings over the head repeatedly with a beer bottle at Southside, a pricey lounge frequented by finance professionals, located on Cleveland Place near Broome St.

On May 17, 2015, Jannarone walked up to Jennings and hit on one of her friends. After Jennings told Jannarone to leave them alone, he walked away — only to come back and strike her “at least twice” with the bottle, according to a May 2016 lawsuit filed by Jennings against Jannarone and Southside in Manhattan Federal Court.

The lawsuit claims Southside’s bouncers didn’t intervene — and even helped Jannarone flee the scene by getting him a cab.

Jannarone denies Jennings’ allegations in the new court papers, which were filed in response to her civil complaint.

His lawyer states that “Jannarone lacked any intent to harm plaintiff, and his actions, with respect to the matters alleged in the complaint, were solely the result of a sudden, unexpected and unforeseeable incapacitation due to a new medication he was taking.”

Jennings, who collapsed to the floor, bleeding “profusely,” needed seven staples to close her head wound. She suffered a concussion and still suffers from headaches and nightmares, she claims.

A friend who stayed at Southside to ensure bouncers got the attacker’s name saw Jannarone plead with them “to ‘protect’ him and not ‘let (him) go to jail.’ ”

“Help me out. I need you to protect me,” Jannarone allegedly said to a witness, according to the criminal complaint. “I can’t believe I did this. I hit this girl with a bottle.”

Jannarone is due in court in December on the assault charges.His civil lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.

Lawyers for Southside said Jennings’ suit “changes nothing.”

“We dispute the complaint allegations and will vigorously contest them,” they said in an email to the Daily News.

Woman Sues Florida Club Over Shooting Injuries (Ft. Myers, FL)

FORT MYERS, Fla. (CN) - A woman wounded in a July nightclub shooting in which her brother and another teen died claims in a lawsuit that lax security at the club during a teenage "Swimsuit Glow Party" led to the tragedy.
Sharrell Strawder, 19, was shot in the leg during the melee that ensued at the club the night of July 25.
Strawder's younger brother, 18-year-old high school basketball star Stef'an Strawder, was shot in the abdomen and died after undergoing emergency surgery.
The other teen killed, Sean Archilles, was only 14 years old.
At least a dozen other victims, some as young as 12 years old, were injured.

At the time of the shooting, Club Blu, a restaurant and lounge in Fort Myers, Fla., was hosting a "Swimsuit Glow Party," where teenagers were told they need only pay $5 admission if they wore a bathing suit.

Shots broke out at the club as the event was ending and parents were picking up their kids in the parking lot, according to the Fort Myers police department.
Strawder's complaint is far from the first lawsuit filed in the wake of the shooting, and her complaint echoes those filed by other plaintiffs.

She claims the club "failed to implement reasonable security" in light of "a substantial amount of violent criminal activity" that had occurred at the premises in years past.
The club also failed to warn attendees about the club's history of violence, the complaint alleges.
The office of Strawder 's attorney, Joseph North, told Courthouse News that her complaint was refiled last week after being previously disposed. North's firm would not specify why the earlier case was discharged.
According to North, the Swimsuit Glow Party should have been cancelled, or never should have been scheduled in the first place, given the history of criminal activity at the club.
North is representing a majority of the surviving victims in litigation over the Club Blu shooting, as well as the estate of Strawder 's brother Stef'an. His clients' lawsuits say the reason for the shooting remains "unknown."
Dennis Webb, another Fort Myers-area attorney, is representing the estate of Sean Archilles, according to court records.

All told, more than ten lawsuits have been filed in Lee County alleging that Club Blu is liable for the bloodshed. The cases starting flowing into the circuit court within three days of the incident.

Terry Pannell and Brandy McLaughlin, two of the plaintiffs, say they were caught in the gunfire while providing security for the club. Pannell purportedly suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound.

The day after the shooting, the club apologized and said it had taken extensive precautions to prevent violence at the event.

"We are deeply sorry for all involved. We tried to give the teens what we thought was a safe place to have a good time. Ages 12-17. There were armed security as well as full security, inside and out," the club wrote on its social media page. "There was nothing more we could [have] done."
Shortly before the shooting, Club Blu's liquor license was reportedly revoked for failure to properly maintain business records. The revocation made alcohol-free teen parties an important source of revenue for the club.

No one has been charged directly with the shooting, and police have not pinpointed a motive, save to say that the incident was "not an act of terror ... or terrorism."

Speculation has run rampant as to who was responsible, with some blaming gang activity in the Fort Myers area, and others pointing to a group of teens "beefing" as a possible trigger for the carnage.

McLaughlin for one told local reporters that the shooting was simply the product of "an idiot with a firearm."
Three men -- Derrick Church, Demetrius O'Neal and Tajze Battle -- were arrested after an encounter with the Fort Myers Police Department and the Lee County Sheriff's Office on the night of the shooting.

Church, the driver of a car in which the men were riding, allegedly fled when officers tried to pull him over in a neighborhood near the club, based on a call about a suspicious vehicle in the area.

Once the chase ended, O'Neal and Battle bailed from the car and tried to escape on foot, the sheriff's office claims.
They were caught and charged with resisting an officer without violence.

A deputy shot Church, claiming the man drove toward him in a threatening manner.

Church was booked for alleged aggravated assault on an officer, though neither he, O'Neal nor Battle faced charges for the Club Blu attack.

A MasterPiece Arms pistol, believed to have been used in the attack, was found near Club Blu and was traced back to its original buyer, Jazmin Barron of Lehigh Acres, police say.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives slapped Barron with federal charges for listing an incorrect address on her paperwork for the gun purchase in 2015.
A torched car that turned up a few blocks away from the club was reported to be tied to the shooting, though Fort Myers police have not commented on the connection.
Two additional parties are named as defendants in the lawsuits over the shooting: Carrell Corners West (the operator of the plaza where the club was located) and IMC Property Management and Maintenance.

Jennifer Burby, the attorney for Carrell Corners, declined to comment when reached by phone.

Club Blu has reputedly been the site of gun violence in the past, as two men are said to have been shot there in May 2015.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Stony Point restaurant must defend claims it was negligent in serving man who nearly killed judge’s daughter with car (Brooklyn, NY)


An appellate court in Brooklyn has allowed a lawsuit to proceed brought by Alysoun Sherwood against the Fireside Steak Pub, claiming that the bar served a visibly intoxicated person who later struck her vehicle.

Sherwood sustained serious injuries on February 22, 2013, when her vehicle was struck by Michael Coyle, the driver of a vehicle that crossed a double yellow line on Route 9W and struck her vehicle. Police immediately arrested Coyle and discovered he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.18, more than twice the legal limit.

In her lawsuit, Sherwood claimed that Fireside Steak Pub in Stony Point was liable for her injuries since Coyle spent most of the day drinking at the bar and staff continued to serve him despite being visibly intoxicated. Under New York law, any person injured by an intoxicated person has a claim against anyone who sells, procures or contributed to a person’s intoxication. This law is commonly referred to as the Dram Shop Law. Coyle eventually pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular assault and is currently serving a 3 1/3 – 10 year prison sentence.

Fireside sought to dismiss Sherwood’s claims by submitting testimony from its bartender that Coyle was not visibly intoxicated. The bartender claimed he only served Coyle two beers. However, Sherwood submitted the transcript of Coyle’s plea where he admitted he drank at least 13 beers and seven shots of whiskey at the Fireside.

Additionally, Sherwood submitted a statement from the arresting police officer that stated Coyle exhibited signs of intoxication, had glassy eyes, impaired speech and poor motor coordination. The appeals court ruled that there were issues of fact that required a trial on Sherwood’s claims. The court ruled that Judge Gerald Loehr of the Rockland Supreme Court properly denied Fireside’s motion to dismiss Sherwood’s claims.

The case’s next hearing is scheduled for November 16, 2016 at which time a trial date will likely be set.

Sherwood is the daughter of former New York State Supreme Court Judge and Stony Point Supervisor William Sherwood (R) and his wife Susan Sherwood, the current Rockland County commissioner of Human Rights. Coincidentally, one of then-Supervisor William Sherwood’s running mates in the 2011 electoral cycle was Karl Javenes, brother of Fireside’s owner Tom Javenes.


Friday, October 7, 2016

Lawsuit Says Aqua Nightclub Overserved Woman who Jumped Out of Moving Vehicle (St. Paul, MN)

The family of a woman who died after she jumped out of a moving vehicle is suing Aqua Nightclub, saying she had been overserved.

Nan Vang of Andover was at Aqua Nightclub on Saturday, Aug. 8. The lawsuit says Vang was in the VIP room and was served alcohol from 11 p.m. Saturday until 2 a.m. Sunday when she was “obviously intoxicated.”

The lawsuit said Vang was intoxicated, incapacitated and debilitated when she got into a vehicle driven by Daravadee Khue.

Khue drove from downtown Minneapolis to Interstate 94 and was at the Dowling Avenue exit when Vang jumped out of the window of the moving vehicle and landed on the pavement. She later died from her injuries at North Memorial Medical Center, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says Vang’s drunkenness was caused by “the violation of the liquor liability law” by Aqua Nightclub and that the violation was the “sole and direct cause” of Vang jumping out of the window.

The lawsuit was filed by Vang’s father, mother, five brothers and three sisters, who are asking to be compensated for their losses.

We have reached out to Aqua Nightclub for a response and are waiting to hear back.

Former Downtown Bend bar sued (Bend, OR)

The owner of a now-defunct bar in Downtown Bend is facing a $2.6 million lawsuit stemming from a fight in 2014 that left a patron with severe head and neck injuries.

Lee Works filed the lawsuit Sept. 30 in Deschutes County Circuit Court against PTC Inc., which operated the Bond Street Grill. The lawsuit states that Works and Chauncey Day were drinking at the Bond Street Grill on the morning of Oct. 2, 2014. Day was visibly intoxicated when he and Works entered the bar, the lawsuit states. The bar was located at 932 NW Bond Street, the current home of J Dub.

A representative for PTC Inc. could not be reached for comment. The corporation was dissolved in 2015, according to the Oregon Business Registry.

According to the lawsuit, the bartender asked Works to escort Day outside, where he fought and injured Works, who suffered a fractured neck, and severe bruising and swelling of the brain. The lawsuit alleges PTC Inc. is liable for continuing to serve Day despite his intoxication, and for instructing Works to remove Day despite the possibility of violence.

—Bulletin Staff Report


A few thoughts from Steve Guidry...
Wait, what? What I'd be thinking if I owned the bar:

"'re suing my bar (strike one) because your friend beat your a** on a night you were out drinking together (strike two)? And the bartender asked you to take him outside because he had too much to drink and felt it was time for you to go (strike three)? See you in court!"

Obviously I have not seen the facts in this case, but that's what the former bar owner in me is thinking. 

Plaintiffs, defendants, or legal teams for insurance companies: To contact me about your own hospitality based lawsuit, please reach out to C.A.L.M. Legal Consulting in St. Louis, Missouri:

Strip club, bar sued over ex-Linden cop's deadly wrong-way crash (Linden, NJ)

The former Linden cop who survived the wrong-way crash where his fellow officer was allegedly driving drunk and the family of one of the men who was killed in the crash are now suing the two bars the men visited.

Lawyers for crash survivor Patrik Kudlac, 25, and the family of Joseph Rodriguez, then 28, a passenger in the car who was killed in the crash, have filed "dram shop" complaints against both bars, claiming they recklessly over-served Pedro Abad while Abad was visibly intoxicated. (See both complaints, below.)

Authorities said that on March 20, 2015, just before 5 a.m., Abad was driving his Honda Civic the wrong-way on the West Shore Expressway when he crashed head-on into a tractor-trailer. They said Abad visited Roselle bar Central Park and Curves, a Staten Island strip club, before the crash. Abad's blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit at the time of the crash, authorities said. Another Linden officer, Frank Viggiano, 28, was also killed in the crash.

Abad has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated vehicular homicide and manslaughter. His next court hearing is on Oct. 18. Abad's lawyer has suggested that strippers at Curves may have drugged Abad.

"The New Jersey and New York dram shop laws specifically say that a tavern keeper cannot serve alcohol to someone who exhibits signs of intoxication," Kudlac's lawyer, David Wikstrom, told NJ Advance Media. "According to witnesses we have, Pedro was visibly intoxicated while he was provided with drinks, as well as free drinks, at both Central Park and Curves."

In the complaint, Wikstrom, whose office is in Springfield, asks for judgment against both bars for Kudlac's "pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment in life."

Kudlac's injuries also forced him to resign as an officer, Wikstrom said.

Calls to Curves and Abad's lawyer for comment were not returned. A manager at Central Park denied the bar had been sued and said she would not comment.

NJ Advance Media also reported that Abad has been back to Central Park since the crash. Abad also was charged in two DUI crashes before the double-fatal crash, but was only convicted in one.

Blood test to see if a former Linden cop had been drugged prior to a double-fatal Staten Island crash are moving ahead.

Angelo Rodriguez, Joseph's father, and Roseann, his sister, are still "in a very, deep grief," according to their lawyer Donald Caminiti, whose office is in Hackensack.

"Joseph was on track to become a firefighter or policeman, and but for the absolutely reckless conduct of Curves and Central Park, Joseph would be here," Caminiti told NJ Advance Media. "With the amount of alcohol apparently found in Mr. Abad's system he had to be exhibiting signs of intoxication, and he shouldn't have been served."

After Abad's last court hearing, Roseann Rodriguez yelled at Abad in the hallway,saying, "This is no joke" and "You're done!"

"They go to court every single time because they want to see that the matter is handled properly and that Mr. Abad is disciplined properly for his conduct," Caminiti said.

Both parties have already settled with Abad's car insurance, receiving the maximum benefit, though they can't disclose the amount.

Though Wikstrom had initially filed a tort claim against Linden police after an investigation determined they were deficient in disciplining Abad, it was decided that there was not enough evidence to include the department in the claim.

"After reviewing the law at this time we don't have enough basis to bring a claim against Linden Police or any other police department," Wikstrom said. "That could change through discovery, however."