The family of a Temple graduate who was fatally beaten more than a year ago after an altercation in Old City has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the two establishments that the family believes served the men alcohol when they were already inebriated.
Kevin Kless, 23, was beaten to death by three men after a verbal altercation in Old City in January 2012. Attorney Michael Barrett, who was hired by the Kless estate to pursue the wrongful death suit, claimed that both the G Lounge near Rittenhouse Square and Lucy’s Hat Shop in Old City continued to serve alcohol to the three men while they were not sober.
“This was a very sad and unfortunate death,” Barrett said.
Under the Pennsylvania Dram Shop Act, a business or individual who serves alcohol to someone who is already inebriated is legally responsible for any damages that the person may cause.
“The family wanted to bring attention to this problem,” Barrett said. “They wanted to bring awareness that both bars were not supposed to serve drinks while their patrons were drunk.”
On the night of Jan. 13, 2012, Kless started his night at Lucy’s Hat Shop. The defendants, Kenneth Enriquiz-Santiago, Steven Ferguson and Felix Carrillo were in the same bar. According to the official complaint, Lucy’s Hat Shop continued to serve Kless and his attackers alcohol while they were visibly intoxicated. Santiago, Ferguson and Carrillo left Lucy’s a short time later and entered G Lounge. The suit said that all three men were again served alcohol while inebriated.
As the three defendants left the lounge later that evening, they began to argue with Kless and his company, which ultimately lead to a fight. Kless was left bleeding on the ground, where he soon died.
Throughout the ordeal, all three assailants were still considered to be intoxicated, according to the complaint.
Santiago, Ferguson and Carrillo were charged with the beating of Kless in early 2012. Ferguson pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and is currently serving a five to 10 year sentence while the other two are serving a lighter sentence after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter.
Barrett also said that the bars served two of the assailants, Ferguson, 20, and Santiago, 19, who were under the legal drinking age at the time of the incident. The penalty for supplying alcohol to minors can include the establishments’ loss of their liquor licenses, fines and criminal charges.
“The reason this incident happened is because the two bars served alcohol to minors,” he said. “The responsibility is with them.”
Barrett claimed that both bars did not try to stop the flow of consumption, as they were trained to do. According to the complaint, a bartender at Lucy’s Hat Shop said that on a typical weekend, about 99 percent of the bar is “buzzed.”
“Instead of saying, ‘Would you like another?’ they should have known when to stop serving,” Barrett said.
Both the G Lounge and Lucy’s Hat Shop were not available to comment.
Edward Barrenechea is a crime beat writer for The Temple News. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @EddieB_TU.