Attorneys for Phila. nightclub sued over assault incident want case transferred from state to federal court

By Jon Campisi | May 1, 2012

Attorneys for a Philadelphia nightclub facing a personal injury lawsuit by a woman who alleges the establishment was negligent when it evicted drunk patrons, one of whom ended up assaulting the plaintiff, are seeking to have the matter transferred from state court to a federal venue.

Robert Douglas Billet and Christopher D. Hillsley, lawyers with the Philadelphia firm Billet & Associates, filed a notice of removal with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania April 27 seeking to have a personal injury claim by a woman identified by her initials, "K.D.," against Philadelphia-based Cavanaugh’s River Deck, transferred from Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court to the federal court in Philadelphia.

The attorneys, who represent Cavanaugh’s, said the suit should play out in the federal jurisdiction because of the diversity in citizenship among the parties involved.

In addition to Cavanaugh’s, Blackwood, N.J. resident Steve J. Wilson is named as the additional defendant.

According to the complaint, which was originally filed in state court on Jan. 16 by Philadelphia attorney Louis Silverman, of Silverman Trotman & Schneider, K.D. was a patron at Cavanaugh’s River Deck on June 18, 2011, when, at about 1:30 in the morning, she was struck and/or pushed by defendant Wilson after the man was escorted out of Cavanaugh’s by bar security.

The plaintiff claims she sustained injuries to her head, face, mouth, teeth and nerves as a result of the alleged assault, which took place after Wilson and a group of his friends were escorted out of the establishment because they were allegedly visibly drunk and disorderly.

At the time of the incident, K.D. was waiting outside of the bar to meet up with some friends.

K.D., who claims in her suit that she had to spend money on medical attention for the treatment of her injuries, and claims she has been unable to attend to her daily activities or earn a living because of the incident, accuses the bar of negligence for hiring unqualified bartenders and bouncers who should have realized they were placing the plaintiff in harms way when they escorted the allegedly drunk patrons directly into her path.

The civil action also accuses defendant Wilson of assault, battery and negligence for causing K.D. bodily injury that required medical attention and caused her to suffer physical injuries, pain, aches, fear, mental anguish, humiliation, inconvenience and a loss of life’s pleasures.

K.D. seeks unspecified compensatory damages, as well as attorney’s fees and other costs.

In the removal notice filed with the U.S. District Court, Cavanaugh River Deck attorneys Billet and Hillsley note that K.D.'s attorneys attempted to serve the defendant with the complaint in mid-February by providing a copy of the lawsuit to a contractor performing renovations on a Philadelphia home.

The defendant didn’t actually receive the complaint until proper service was effectuated on March 31, the lawyers argued.

They also noted that upon belief, defendant Wilson hasn’t actually been served with the complaint to date.

Cavanaugh’s attorneys wrote that the removal notice, which must be filed within 30 days of receiving a complaint, was timely since they didn’t get served with the lawsuit until late March.

The attorneys wrote that venue was proper in federal court because of the diversity of citizenship among the parties involved.


The Court of Common Pleas case ID number is 120101808.

The federal removal notice number is 2:12-cv-02277-NS. 

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