Widow of cabbie killed by drunken driver settles wrongful death claim for $1 million-plus

By Jon Campisi | Dec 7, 2012

The family of a taxicab driver killed by a drunken motorist in Philadelphia four years ago

reached a $1 million-plus settlement in the wrongful death case last month.

Court records show that the case of Kotov vs. Irish Table, Inc. et al. settled on Nov. 2, shortly after a Philadelphia judge had been assigned to oversee what was scheduled to be a jury trial in Common Pleas Court.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Frederica Massiah-Jackson noted in a docket sheet entry that the case had been settled out of court.

Attorney David Kwass, of the Philadelphia firm Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, filed suit in late August 2010 on behalf of Warrington, Pa. resident Natalia Kotov, the widow of the taxicab driver, Alexander Kotov.

The defendants named in the civil suit were two Philadelphia drinking establishments: Irish Table Inc., also known as The Plough and The Stars, and Mad River Philly LLC.

The record shows that a separate, but related action had been filed in late December 2009 against the Vango Lounge and Sky Bar, Vango Restaurant & Bar Inc., Sawan’s Bistro Inc. and Gary F. Klemowicz.

Klemowicz was the driver of the vehicle that struck and killed Alexander Kotov on Oct. 18, 2008 at the intersection of Chestnut and 11th Streets in downtown Philadelphia, according to the complaint.

Klemowicz, who was proceeding eastbound on Chestnut Street at the time, ended up running a red light and colliding with Kotov’s cab, which was traveling northbound on 11th Street.

As a result of the collision, Kotov sustained multiple blunt force injuries, he experienced concussion pain, and he ultimately died as a result of the accident, according to court papers.

The lawsuit had claimed that Klemowicz was drinking alcohol at both Plough and the Stars and at Mad River on the night in question.

The plaintiff asserted in her wrongful death claim that the businesses had over-served Klemowicz, who was apparently visibly intoxicated and unfit to drive that night.

The defendants were sued for negligence, wrongful death and survival action.

Klemowicz, now 32 years old, had been charged criminally with simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, accident involving death or injury, DUI and involuntary manslaughter, his criminal docket sheet shows.

He ended up pleading guilty to the homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence charge and the general DUI, the latter of which was his first offense for that crime.

The remaining charges were nolle prossed by the district attorney, the record shows.

Klemowicz was subsequently sentenced to three years in state prison.

Kwass, the plaintiff’s attorney, was quoted in local legal media as saying that Mad River, the final bar Klemowicz had visited on the night he killed Kotov, bore the brunt of the recent settlement dollars, or $950,000 out of the total $1.075 million.

The plaintiff’s attorney went on to breakdown the remaining portion of the judgment as follows: $25,000 against Klemowicz, $25,000 against Vango Lounge and Sky Bar, $25,000 against Sawan’s Bistro and $50,000 against Plough and The Stars.

Mad River has since closed its location in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood, which is where Klemowicz had been drinking his final drinks before the crash.

The bar still has a location in the city’s Manayunk section.

Defense counsel in the case included James J. Breslin, III, of New Jersey firm Barnaba & Marconi; David M. McCormick, of Philadelphia’s McCormick & Priore; Philadelphia lawyer Angelo L. Scaricamazza; attorney John R. Evans, of Broomall, Pa.-based Bolan Jahnsen Dacey; and Cooper Levenson lawyer Laurence D. Granite of Cherry Hill, N.J.

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