$7,000,000 – Old City Beating Death Leads to Dram Shop Settlement

The estate of a 23-year-old man beaten to death after a night out in the Old City section of Philadelphia has settled for $7 million with the bars that served the man’s attackers, according to lawyers in the case.

The $7 million settlement was reached with defendant bars G Lounge and Lucy’s Hat Shop, which allegedly served assailants Steven Ferguson, Kenneth Enriquez-Santiago, and Felix Carrillo excessive quantities of alcohol Jan. 14, 2012, before the trio beat Kevin Kless to death while he waited for a cab with his girlfriend and friend at Fourth and Chestnut streets.

Ferguson and Enriquez-Santiago were underage at the time but were allowed in the bars and served alcohol, according to court papers in the case of Kless v. Victor Holdings. All three assailants pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, where the dram shop case was also filed.

According to the mediation memorandum of John Kless, the administrator of Kevin Kless’ estate, he was seeking the $6 million insurance policy limit of G Lounge and the $1 million policy limit of Lucy’s Hat Shop. And that is what the two parties ultimately agreed to settle for, according to Robert Mongeluzzi of Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, the attorney for John Kless.

Jonathan Field of Mintzer Sarowitz Zeris Ledva & Meyers represented Lucy’s Hat Shop. He confirmed the settlement amounts but declined to comment further on his client’s position in the case.

Mongeluzzi, who represented Kless along with Joseph DeAngelo, said bars National Mechanics and Public House were brought in as defendants by the defense because of their roles in serving Kevin Kless alcohol that night. Field said it was G Lounge that brought those bars in as defendants, and as part of resolving the entire matter, G Lounge settled with those bars for an undisclosed amount.

Joseph A. Ricchezza of Salmon, Ricchezza, Singer & Turchi represented G Lounge and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mongeluzzi said the civil case remains open against Ferguson, Enriquez-Santiago, and Carrillo, who are all currently incarcerated.

“We haven’t agreed to release them,” Mongeluzzi said. “You never know when one of them might win the lottery.”

Mongeluzzi said he thought he was able to reach a settlement for both bars’ policy limits because of a carve-out for dram shop cases in Pennsylvania’s Fair Share Act. Defendants in dram shop cases are not protected by that act’s limitation on liability and a finding of even 1 percent liability of any dram shop defendant could put them on the hook for an entire verdict, Mongeluzzi said.

Bringing this case to a jury would have been a risky move, Mongeluzzi said, because there was a “horrific beating death,” no defense to serving alcohol to minors, and “ample” evidence of overserving all of the assailants.

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