Two employees of William Glatz Jewelers, a fixture on Rising Sun Avenue in
Northeast Philadelphia for more than six decades, have filed suit against a prison food services delivery business over allegations that its negligence in allowing two prison inmates to board one of its vehicles and escape prison subsequently led to a fatal shootout at the jewelry store.
William Glatz was killed back in late October 2010 when Kevin Turner, a 22-year-old Philadelphia prison inmate with a lengthy rap sheet, escaped the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on State Road, met up with a paroled acquaintance and headed over to the jewelry shop with intentions to commit an armed robbery, according to past media reports.
The robbery went sour, however, after Glatz, 67 years old at the time, engaged the two bandits in gunfire.
Both Glatz and Turner were killed in the confrontation. Turner’s accomplice escaped but was later apprehended by authorities.
On Oct. 12, attorneys Leonard G. Villari and Thomas A. Lynam, III, of the Philadelphia firm Villari, Lentz & Lynam, filed suit at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court on behalf of Eric and Josephine Stiess and Margaret Colbridge.
Eric Stiess, of Philadelphia, and Colbridge, of Cheltenham, Montgomery County, were employed by Glatz at the time of the October 2010 robbery, during which the two plaintiffs were held at gunpoint and threatened with death, according to the civil action.
It was during this time that Glatz pulled his own firearm and engaged the robbers in a shootout.
Both Glatz and Turner, 22, were killed in the hail of gunfire.
The other robber, who was identified as parolee Obina Onyiak, was able to flee the scene, but was eventually arrested by police.
“Plaintiffs Margaret Colbridge and Eric Stiess were in an obvious zone of danger where there was a significant exchange of gunfire in Glatz Jewelry Store, placing Plaintiffs at equal risk of being physically attacked, shot and/or killed,” the lawsuit states.
The defendants named in the lawsuit are Philadelphia-based Aramark, Aramark Corp., Aramark Correctional Services LLC, Aramark Correctional Services Inc., Aramark Correctional Facility Services Inc. and U.S. Facilities Inc.
The complaint essentially blames the defendants for the subsequent robbery, since Turner had used a food services delivery vehicle, which had been stationed at the city prison, to escape the correctional facility.
The suit says that Aramark was aware of the “peculiarly vicious and criminal type persons imprisoned at the … correctional facility, and accepted the heightened duty and responsibility for developing and/or implementing safety, screening, security measures and/or other investigation practices to ensure that prison inmates did not use Defendant Aramark’s employees, supplies and/or vehicles to escape from Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.”
Aramark is in charge of delivering food to and from loading docks and other areas at or near the city prison.
U.S. Facilities is tasked with handling security for the Philadelphia Prison System Food Production Facility.
“At all times material hereto, Defendant U.S. Facilities, Inc. knew or should have known the foreseeable likelihood that the aforementioned prison inmates would avail themselves of the opportunity to escape prison and commit later criminal acts if Defendant failed to develop and/or implementing [sic] safety, screening, security measures and/or other investigation practices to prevent inmate escapes – especially after Defendant had knowledge of prior inmate escape attempts and the prior solicitation of Defendant’s employees by inmates to assist with planned escape attempts,” the lawsuit states.
The complaint alleges that while an inmate at Curran-Fromhold, Turner had repeatedly told other inmates, prison guards, contracted employees and his girlfriend of his intentions to escape the prison.
The suit further alleges that Turner planned to have his girlfriend approach two Aramark employees in an attempt to purchase an Aramark uniform similar to those worn by the food delivery personnel working at the prison so Turner would be able to escape by boarding a food delivery truck.
“Defendants were fully knowledgeable of the fact that prison inmates were availing themselves of escape opportunities created by the security, screening and other investigation practices and procedures in place and/or implemented at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility,” the lawsuit states.
The plaintiffs in the case, Stiess and Colbridge, who were the jewelry store employees, claim that they suffered extreme fear and anxiety after being held at gunpoint by Turner and his cohort during the store robbery.
“Plaintiffs Margaret Colbridge and Eric Stiess were also subjected to a violent shoot-out further amplifying their stress, fear and anxiety regarding the very real possibility that Plaintiffs would be seriously injured and/or lose their lives,” the suit states.
The plaintiffs continue to suffer from severe mental stress, anxiety, nightmares, emotional disturbances and other physical manifestations and psychological disorders stemming from the traumatic experience, the complaint alleges.
The lawsuit contains counts of negligence against the various defendants.
There is also a loss of consortium count filed on behalf of Stiess’ wife, Josephine, who claims that the incident caused her to be deprived of the companionship and useful services of her husband.
The plaintiffs demand compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $50,000, together with interest, costs and other equitable relief.
The case ID number is 121001667.