Two Philly Bars Named in Wrongful Death Suit

Kevin Kless was beaten to death in January 2012.

Two popular Old City night spots have been named in a civil lawsuit filed in court today by attorneys for Kevin Kless, a 23-year-old Temple graduate who was beaten to death by three men January last year.

The suit, filed in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by Saltz, Mongeluzzi & Bendesky law firm earlier today, lists Lucy’s Hat Shop and G Lounge as responsible parties in Kless’s death, alleging that both bars served alcohol to Kenneth Enriquiz-Santiago, Steven Ferguson, and Felix Carillo–the three men convicted of Kless’ murder–despite their being well beyond the point of “visible intoxication” on the night of the murder.

According to police, on the night of January 12, 2012, Enriquiz-Santiago, Ferguson and Carillo attacked and beat Kless to death on the corner of 4th and Chestnut Street while he was trying to hail a cab.

The three men were reportedly drinking at Lucy’s Hat Shop and G Lounge prior to the incident.

Attorney for Saltz, Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, PC, Michael Barrett says its time for the bars to own up to its responsibility in Kless’ death.

“Kevin Kless did not deserve to die and the time has come to hold Lucy’s Hat Shop and G Lounge responsible and accountable for their actions as they relate to his senseless and premature death,” Barrett said.

He also hopes the case will provoke stricter adherance to state laws concerning the service of alcohol to intoxicated persons.

“We’re hoping that cases like this will continue to raise awareness within the bar community and the business so that there’s much better policing by the bars, by the ownership, by the management, by the servers,” Barrett said.

In a press release, Barrett’s co-counsel Joseph DeAngelo cited scathing information about the alcohol service practices at Lucy’s, stating that the bar’s manager has previously admitted that on a typical weekend night, 20% of the bar’s crowd is so intoxicated that they don’t know what they’re doing.

This is not Lucy’s Hat shop first brush with the law. Since 1999, Lucy’s has been cited by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board seven times and have been order to pay more than $3,500 in fines.

Lucy’s was ordered to pay a whopping $2,000 fine in 2005 for serving alcohol to a minor, illegally operating gambling devices, and permitting lewd or improper entertainment for bar patrons.

Due to its repeat offenses in this area, Barrett says the bar could eventually be shut down.

“I definitely think the liquor licenses for repeat offenders or violators could be at risk here,” Barrett said.

Managers for Lucy’s Hat Shop and G Lounge could be reached for comment.

Pennsylvania state law prohibits any establishment from selling or giving any liquor, malt, or brewed beverages, to any person that is visibly intoxicated.

Fines for serving alcohol to intoxicated persons in Pennsylvania can range from as little as $50 to as much as $5,000, according the state’s liquor control code. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, the State only imposes jail sentences to licensees in violation of its liquor control laws if fines are not paid.

Barrett says cases involving improper liquor service are increasing due to the state’s lenient consequences.

“Regrettably, I’m handling more and more of these cases and I’ve been practicing for 29 years.The incidence of these cases seem to be on the rise; that is the service of alcoholic beverages to underage individuals, as well as individuals who are clearly, and visibly intoxicated by analysis of blood alcohol levels,” he said.

“Our case is a civil case, however, I think that the legislature can enact tougher laws; laws that have greater consequences for these types of violations of the law.”

Members of Kless’ family declined to comment on the filing.

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