Two defunct Philadelphia nightclubs have agreed to pay $7 million to settle a wrongful death suit filed by the family of a Temple University graduate who was beaten to death in Old City by three drunk men.
The clubs, Lucy's Hat Shop and G Lounge, allegedly served the three men – two of them underage -- past the point of intoxication. The men, Kenneth Enriquez-Santiago, Steven Ferguson, and Felix Carrillo, are currently serving prison sentences for their roles in the Jan. 14, 2012 killing.
Kevin Kless, 23, was attempting to hail a taxi for himself and two female friends at 4th and Market Streets when a cab sped by without stopping. Kless cursed at the taxi as the three men pulled up alongside him. Believing the words were meant for them, Enriquiz-Santiago and Carrillo piled out of the car and attacked, according to court records. After roughing him up, the two men returned to the car.
Kless was still standing when Ferguson got out from behind the wheel, walked up to Kless and punched him in the head. The blow tore an artery in Kless' neck. Kless died moments later.
According to attorney Robert Mongeluzzi, several witnesses testified that the two nightclubs had continued to serve alcohol to the three men beyond the point of "visible intoxication," in violation of Pennsylvania's liquor code.
The state's liquor-liability laws – known as Dram Shop legislation – hold bar owners responsible for serving alcohol to underage or visibly intoxicated patrons.
"When you have a license to sell alcohol, you have the responsibility to do it safely," Mongeluzzi said. "If you serve underage, drunken patrons, and they leave your bar and commit a heinous crime, you will be held accountable for your actions."
Mongeluzzi's co-counsel, Joseph G. DeAngelo, said in a statement that the two bars routinely ignored the state's liquor laws.
"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," DeAngelo said. "This tragedy represents the classic scenario of a horrific, deadly event just waiting to happen."
Insurance policies held by the defunct clubs will pay for the settlement, which was announced Wednesday. Lucy's policy will cover $1 million, G Lounge $6 million, Mongeluzzi said.