Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lawsuit seeks $350,000 from Summit Saloon

A $350,000 lawsuit filed against The Summit Saloon and Stage claims that bar security staff stood by while a patron was assaulted and prevented other patrons from intervening to break up the attack.

Bar ownership disputes the claims laid out in the lawsuit and contends video evidence will show security intervened and broke up the fight.

Jamal Hernandez, of Redmond, claims in the lawsuit that he was invited to the bar by Summit on July 8 for business purposes.

During that night, Hernandez and an allegedly drunk patron bumped into each other while passing on a staircase, the complaint states.

The lawsuit claims a verbal altercation broke out in front of Summit security staff before Hernandez walked to the other side of the bar, where he joined his wife and friends, who were near other security staff.

Shortly after, the patron walked up to Hernandez and punched him in the face, knocking him out for an estimated five to 10 seconds, the lawsuit claims. As Hernandez tried to get up, the man punched him repeatedly in the back of the head.

The lawsuit claims security staff watched the attack but did nothing to stop it. Further, it claims that security staff prevented bystanders from jumping in to pull the patron away from Hernandez. The suit also claims bar staff refused to call police to report the assault, and that the patron walked away after the attack and was not restrained by bar staff.

The lawsuit claims Hernandez sustained bruises to his face, head and back, a fractured nose, brain injury, sprains to his neck and back as well as subsequent anxiety and insomnia.

Hernandez is seeking $250,000 for pain and suffering and $100,000 for medical bills. Hernandez does not have a criminal history in Oregon or a history of filing lawsuits, according to court records.

The lawsuit does not name the patron but claims Summit bartenders continued to serve him despite the fact that he was visibly drunk.

Hernandez’s attorney, Mario Riquelme of Bend-based Elliott, Riquelme & Wilson, LLP, said the alleged assailant has not been identified.

Matthew Gordon, president of Oregon Street Pub Inc., which owns Summit, was served with the lawsuit Thursday night, according to court records. Gordon called the event unfortunate, but said video evidence and statements from his staff do not corroborate Hernandez’s claims.

According to Bend Police Department spokesman Lt. Clint Burleigh, officers did respond to Summit in the early hours of July 9 for a report of two assaults. No arrests were made and no report was written. Riquelme said the assailant has not been identified.

Riquelme said he is working to track down witnesses and get video surveillance footage to make sure it backs up Hernandez’s version of the night.

“We are still investigating all the facts of the case,” he said. “We obviously want to get to the truth of the matter and make sure that justice is served and the right thing is done.”

Gordon said he has been in contact with his attorney, but that there is no evidence Summit served the attacker. He also said Hernandez verbally provoked the attacker and fought back. Security, he said, stepped in immediately.

“According to all the information that I have collected on my end, we seem to be totally in the right,” he said.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Parents sue bar, Drexel frats over son's brain injury; say no one called 911

A Narberth couple are blaming members of two Drexel University fraternities and the bar that served some of their members for their son’s severe brain injury, sustained after he was punched during an altercation and no one called 911 to get him help for 10 hours.

Roderick J. McGibbon and his wife, Elizabeth, say their son, Ian, 23, who has had four head surgeries, cannot remember things, does not have use of his left arm, walks with a brace, and tires easily. His parents obtained a court order declaring him incapacitated and appointing Roderick McGibbon as his guardian.

“I can’t help but feel if 911 had been called, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now,” Roderick McGibbon said during a news conference at his lawyer’s Center City office, where they announced they had filed suit Thursday in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.

Two large photos of their son, who was not at the news conference, were in the background, one with him smiling, wearing a striped shirt and holding his dog, and the other with him unconscious in a hospital bed connected to tubes. MARGO REED
Ian McGibbon in a hospital bed after the injury. (MARGO REED / Staff Photographer )

Drexel police investigated and charged no one in the altercation, and the university is not named in the lawsuit, though the two fraternities to which the members belong are.

Robert J. Mongeluzzi, the McGibbons’ attorney, said lack of police charges doesn’t excuse the behavior, and “that is what juries are for.”

“How many more college students are going to be left abandoned on a couch while their brain swells and their brothers, fraternity, don’t call 911?” Mongeluzzi asked in apparent reference to the death of Tim Piazza, a Pennsylvania State University student who fell down the stairs at an alcohol-fueled fraternity party Feb. 2, was left on a couch, and later died. Fraternity members in that case did not call 911 for nearly 12 hours; 18 have been charged in connection with his death.

“When will it end?” Mongeluzzi asked.

The Drexel incident occurred early on Sept. 12, 2015, between 32nd and 33rd Streets on Powelton Avenue when McGibbon and two fellow members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity were on their way home from a bar. They got into an altercation with members of another fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi. Mongeluzzi acknowledged that versions of what spurred and happened during the altercation differ.

At some point during the fight, McGibbon was punched, fell, and struck his head on the cement, rendering him unconscious, Mongeluzzi said. Fraternity members helped him back to the house – lawyers showed video of McGibbon being held up by two men as he walked down the street. He was placed on a couch, the lawyer said. The fraternity’s “risk manager” monitored him for several hours until 6 a.m., then went to sleep, the attorney said. McGibbon, he said, had a bright red bruise on his head and was not making sense when he talked.

Elizabeth McGibbon tears up at a news conference where she speaks of her son’s brain injury after fraternity members failed to call 911.

But it wasn’t until noon the next day that McGibbon’s parents, who were concerned that they hadn’t heard from their son, went to the fraternity house, found him “unconscious, nonresponsive, and covered in blood and vomit,” and called for emergency help, Mongeluzzi said. McGibbon, who lives with his parents, suffered “catastrophic and permanently disabling injuries,” the suit alleges, including “spasticity” of his left arm, “seizure disorder, persistent disabling headaches, severe concentration difficulties, anxiety, depression, and other psychological and emotional injures.”

The McGibbons and their attorney have filed suit against the two Pi Kappa Phi members who helped him back to the house, Nicholas Paoletti of Glassboro, N.J., and Anthony Ferro of Philadelphia, and the fraternity’s student risk manager, Zachary Young of Philadelphia. They also are suing Franco Ferraina of Nazareth, who they allege threw the punch that knocked out McGibbon, and another member of Delta Sigma Phi, Matthew Lamorgese, who they say was involved in the altercation.

The two fraternities are named, and so is Cavanaugh’s River Deck, where lawyers say McGibbon and his fellow fraternity members had been drinking.

Mongeluzzi also released records of Drexel’s investigation, including interviews with the fraternity members. According to the documents, Young believed that McGibbon might have had a concussion and thus he stayed up and tried to keep him awake.

Ian McGibbon before the injury in a picture at the upper right.

Before the injury, the McGibbons said, their son, a junior business major at Drexel, was full of life, about to start a co-op internship with an apparel company.

Now, he needs his parents’ help to get in and out of the shower, Roderick McGibbon said.

“He’s afraid to go back to school,” his mother said. “He’s afraid to drive because he knows how limited he is. He’s lonely. Nobody comes around because he’s not the same.”

Officials for the national office of Pi Kappa Phi and Cavanaugh’s River Deck declined comment. Ferro hung up when asked about the lawsuit. Others named as defendants could not be reached.

Drexel, while expressing sympathy for the family, said, “The Drexel Police conducted an investigation, notified the office of the district attorney, and it was determined that no charges would be filed.”


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Bars sued in connection to ex-prosecutor’s crash

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The man who was injured when a former Kent County assistant prosecutor hit his car is now suing three bars, claiming Joshua Kuiper was over-served when he visited them before the crash.

The suit names The Waldron Public House, which is the former McFadden’s; Luna, a Latin restaurant next door; and J. Gardella’s, which is down the street, as defendants.

The suit was filed by Johnson Law on behalf of Daniel Empson. He was injured Nov. 19, 2016 when Kuiper drove the wrong way down Union Avenue SE in Grand Rapids and struck Empson’s parked car head-on. Empson said he suffered a fractured shoulder.A photo from the scene of a crash involving a Kent County assistant prosecutor, provided by the victim. (Nov. 19, 2016)

“Is it fair to say Mr. Kuiper is responsible? Of course it is,” attorney Brian Molde with Johnson Law said. “Is it fair to say that others are responsible as well? I think that’s true, too.”

Molde says his firm has collected depositions from roughly half a dozen people who witnessed Kuiper’s actions the night of the crash, starting at The Waldron House, where he was attending a retirement party for the former prosecutor.

“They told us that first of all, Mr. Kuiper was there, that he was drinking alcohol while he was there. And then they described him in various terms about his behavior — what they saw of him, conversations they had with him — all which led us to believe it was reasonable to say that these establishments, the bars that we sued, knew or should have known that he was intoxicated when they were serving him,” Molde said.

According to Molde, witnesses said Kuiper left The Waldron House with a group of people and went next door to Luna to grab dinner — and more drinks — then to Gardella’s, where he continued to drink.

“That’s the last place that we’ve been able to establish where he was that evening” before the crash, Molde said.FILE — Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Josh Kuiper talks to 24 Hour News 9 on March 25, 2015.

“Michigan law puts liability and responsibility for establishments that are given a license to serve alcohol,” Molde continued. “Had he been restricted from being served alcohol at one of these establishments, the crash wouldn’t have occurred.”

Empson’s lawsuit is asking for more than $25,000 from each bar. 24 Hour News 8 reached out to all three establishments Tuesday seeking comment, but did not hear back.

Empson has already sued Kuiper for the crash.

Kuiper has resigned from the prosecutor’s office. He faces criminal charges for the crash, but not for drunken driving because responding police officers never tested his blood alcohol content level. Two officers were disciplined and a third lost his job over the way the crash was handled.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Bars that served drunk driver who killed Saskatoon family of four face lawsuit

REGINA — Catherine McKay’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit when she drove into a car carrying the Van de Vorst family in January 2016, killing a couple and their two young children.

Now, Saskatchewan’s Crown-owned insurance company is suing two Saskatoon bars that served McKay alcohol.

“She was three times over the limit and no one prevented her from driving. Someone has to be responsible, and as a result of no one doing that, there was a family of four that was killed,” Earl Cameron, executive vice-president of Saskatchewan Government Insurance, said Thursday.

“There’s a legal obligation to make sure your patrons are safe and they don’t harm themselves or someone else.”

McKay was driving an SUV that struck the Van de Vorst family’s car as it crossed a highway just north of Saskatoon on Jan. 3, 2016.

Jordan Van de Vorst, who was 34, and his 33-year-old wife, Chanda Van de Vorst, died at the scene. Their five-year-old daughter, Kamryn, and her two-year-old brother, Miguire, died in hospital.

McKay was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing death.The Van De Vorst family was killed in the crash. Postmedia file

Saskatchewan Government Insurance, known as SGI, has filed a statement of claim against the bars, Industrial Kitchen & Bar and Crackers Licensed Cocktail & Dining Room.

The claim alleges that each tavern overserved McKay and knew or ought to have known she was impaired. The lawsuit alleges the taverns allowed McKay to drive away without taking action.

It also states that the Industrial Kitchen and Lounge Corporation was aware that McKay frequently consumed alcohol at the business to the point of becoming impaired.

“I’m not going to say what the bars should have done. I’m going to say the bars, in this case, could have prevented this had someone intervened,” said Cameron.

“Three times over the legal limit, I think you can tell. Let’s not sugar-coat this. Three times.”

Cameron said bars have training and rules to follow when it comes to serving alcohol and “this is a case where this person left the bar clearly intoxicated.”

The phone number for Industrial Kitchen & Bar was no longer in service and a link to the restaurant’s website redirected to a different restaurant.Catherine McKay Handout

Sean Cunningham, the owner of Crackers restaurant, said Thursday that he and partners bought the business in August 2016 — months after McKay was served and the fatal crash occurred.

Cunningham said he’s contacted SGI about the lawsuit.

“I believe it should be under the previous owner. At this time right now, I’m not sure if it is,” he said.

Cameron said SGI also plans to file a suit against McKay.

This is the first time SGI has filed such a claim, but similar suits have been filed in other parts of the country.

Earlier this year, a British Columbia court found that a man convicted of drunk driving and the pub that served him were jointly responsible for a crash that left pedestrian with brain damage.

The SGI suit seeks $95,000.
‘Horrific and preventable:’ Drunk driver gets 10 years for crash that killed mom, dad, two small children

When asked what he hoped the suit would accomplish, Cameron choked back tears and said: “Ultimately, no more accidents like this one.”

Lou Van de Vorst, Jordan’s father, said he hopes this lawsuit sends a message that bars need to be more accountable for their actions.

“It’s just a very good thing,” Van de Vorst told radio station CKRM.

“I think it will make liquor or establishments that serve alcohol take a second look at what they’re doing, if they’re overserving or if they’re serving people who are obviously impaired.”

Saskatchewan has some of the highest rates of impaired driving in Canada. Statistics Canada says there were 683 police-reported impaired driving incidents per 100,000 population in Saskatchewan in 2011. The Canadian average was 262.

SGI says alcohol is a factor in nearly half of all fatal traffic collisions in the province.


Family sues drunk driver and Hamilton restaurant for injuries

A Hamilton man seriously injured by drunk driver David Megna has launched an $18-million lawsuit against him and The Honest Lawyer restaurant on Stone Church Road East.

In the lawsuit, Mark Dawson is seeking $9 million for the suffering endured because of the crash.

His wife, Teresa, is pursuing $2 million and his daughter, Jenna, is asking for $7 million.

Dawson suffered serious injuries when his van was hit while stopped at a traffic light on Paramount Drive on Sept. 4, 2015. The car that hit him was a 2002 BMW driven by Megna, who was then 26.

Megna is serving a four-year sentence after pleading guilty in criminal court last September to impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm.

His passenger, Tyler Torres, 22, was killed in the crash.

The Dawsons' statement of claim says Mark has disfigurement, traumatic brain injury, anxiety, major depression, post-traumatic stress and cognitive problems such as loss of attention, memory and concentration.

The list includes rib fractures, impaired vision, vertigo and neck, knee and back injuries as well as a number of lacerations and abrasions to ligaments, muscles and nerves.

The injuries "will permanently impair his enjoyment of life and his ability to earn a living," the claim states.

He has also suffered loss of income and employability, and has incurred medical, hospital, rehabilitation, pharmaceutical and other health expenses, it says.

David Megna's family could not be reached for comment.

The claim alleges Megna was negligent by driving recklessly and speeding while impaired.

During Megna's sentencing last October, court heard Megna and Torres had been drinking at The Honest Lawyer on Stone Church that day, beginning around 11 a.m.

At 3 p.m., they left in Megna's car, heading east on Stone Church. Where the street turns into Paramount Drive, Megna lost control of the wheel and his car mounted the curb before slamming into Dawson's van stopped at the lights. The BMW flipped and landed on its passenger side.

The Dawsons' claim also alleges The Honest Lawyer on Stone Church Road East was negligent by continuing to serve Megna drinks when staff knew or ought to have known he was drunk enough to be a danger to himself and others.

The Honest Lawyer has filed a statement of defence denying the allegations.

"My client does deny liability for the accident and intends to vigorously defend it," lawyer Chet Wydrzynski told The Spectator.

Neither he nor his client would comment further.

In a statement of defence, however, The Honest Lawyer denies the allegations and denies the Dawsons sustained the injuries and losses "as alleged."

It counters that Mark Dawson was negligent in that he "failed to take reasonable care to avoid an accident" and "failed to exercise due care and skill in the management of his motor vehicle."

It also says the damages claimed by the Dawsons are "exaggerated, excessive and remote."

The Dawsons' claim also states daughter Jenna Dawson witnessed the crash, which caused her permanent disfigurement, nervous shock and post traumatic stress among other problems that will diminish her enjoyment of life and "her ability to achieve scholastically and earn a living."

She has also incurred a number of health-care expenses, including rehabilitation, the claim adds.

Dawson's wife, Teresa, is seeking damages for loss of care, guidance and companionship as well as loss of household income.

They declined to comment on the lawsuit.

None of the allegations made in the statement of claim or defence have been tested in court.