Wrongful Death and Negligence Lawsuit Filed Against Philly Bar and Murderer of Temple University Student Jenna Burleigh

Pub Webb allegedly violated Pennsylvania’s liquor-liability Dram Shop law

PHILADELPHIA, PA (September 18, 2019) – The criminal prosecution of Joshua Hupperterz ended earlier this year when a judge sentenced him to life in prison for the August 31, 2017 strangulation murder of beloved Temple University junior Jenna Nicole Burleigh. Today her family, guided by Robert J. Mongeluzzi, their attorney and his team including Andrew R. Duffy and E. Douglas DiSandro, Jr. took the next major step to hold accountable those responsible for Jenna’s death: they announced the filing of a wrongful death and negligence civil action against not only Hupperterz, but also the Philadelphia bar that over served him and  fueled his alcohol-laced lethal attack, according to the complaint filed by Saltz, Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, P.C.

The lawsuit, Joseph Edward Burleigh, III, and Jacqueline M. Burleigh, et al. v. Pub Webb et al., Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, No. 190802696details the murder at Hupperterz’s apartment near the Pub Webb bar (1527-29 Cecil B. Moore Ave.) where he met Jenna. The claims against him follow  the criminal prosecution during which a Philadelphia jury deliberated less than two hours before reaching its first-degree guilty verdict. However, the civil lawsuit for the first time alleges the connection between the killer’s horrific actions with the claimed negligence of Pub Webb, asserting that they could have and should have prevented the tragedy by complying with Pennsylvania’s liquor-service law.

Mr. Mongeluzzi, outlining the complaint, said “there is significant evidence – including the bar’s own security video – to establish that Jenna’s killer was impaired and intoxicated as a result of having been over served before going to his apartmentjust after closing time”. Mr. Mongeluzzi added, “Pub Webb’s video shows the murderer staggering into a stool in their bar.” He said the bar’s owners and employees were required by the state’s Dram Shop Act to stop serving any patron, including a regular like the killer, that was clearly intoxicated.

The scientific evidence supporting these claims include the blood alcohol content of Jenna’s blood which proves that she was grossly over served with alcohol, impaired and unable to defend herself at the time of her murder.

Robert J. Mongeluzzi

The complaint asserts the bar’s litany of failures to comply with state law specifically contributed to her death. In addition,  the complaint alleges that Pub Webb, and its four affiliated defendants-businesses violated state law by failing to:

  • Establish and enforce policies and practices which include a drink cut-off limit for alcoholic beverages.
  • Establish, monitor, and administer training, programs and operating procedures designed to identify and assist visibly intoxicated patrons.
  • Train not less than 50% of the alcohol-service personnel as well as managers/owners of licensed establishments to properly serve alcoholic beverages.

The lawsuit includes claims for compensatory and punitive damages, under state law, but the legal team emphasized that was not the motivation for filing the civil action.

Jacqueline Burleigh, Jenna’s mother, said, “Jenna was an incredibly loving, caring, compassionate person who only wanted peace in this world.” She added, “Part of her legacy should be sending a loud, clear message to any business that even thinks about serving visibly-intoxicated patrons that they will be held accountable and that their  actions have consequences. We hope this case shines a light on over service of alcohol and its link to violence . If it even saves one life , it will have been worth it.”

Ed Burleigh, Jenna’s dad, added, that Jenna’s Blessing Bags (www.jennasblessingbags.org) the foundation founded in his daughter’s memory is symbolic of how deeply she cared about people particularly those, who through no fault of their own, found themselves homeless. Committed to social justice in Philadelphia and throughout the world, she famously said:

I truly believe in the good in people and the magic that can be found in all of us. I will always fight for what’s right. I will always fight for equality for all.

Beloved Temple University junior Jenna Nicole Burleigh

Those words are included in every life-essentials backpack distributed to persons in need by Jenna’s Blessing Bags, which to date has distributed nearly 1,000 bags to the homeless and needy.

The SMB legal team includes SMB Partner Andrew R. Duffy and attorney E. Douglas DiSandro, Jr..

Robert J. Mongeluzzi – rmongeluzzi@smbb.com / 215.496.8282
Steph Rosenfeld – steph@idadvisors.com / 215.514.4101

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