Two popular Philadelphia bars have been named as defendants in a wrongful death
lawsuit filed on behalf of Kevin Kless, a 23-year-old who was beaten to death by three men in January 2012.
Kless was attacked after attempting to hail a cab at Fourth and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood after he and his girlfriend left Lucy’s Hat Shop, one of the defendants named in the civil complaint.
Kless, a graduate of Temple University, was subsequently beaten to death by Kenneth Enriquez-Santiago, Steven Ferguson and Felix Carrillo, who had also previously been drinking at Lucy’s Hat Club and another bar named as a defendant in the suit, the G Lounge.
The incident made headlines in the Philadelphia region for its brutal and seemingly senseless nature; the three assailants apparently believed Kless was yelling at them when Kless was supposedly in the midst of an argument with a cab driver.
News reports state that Ferguson ended up pleading guilty to third-degree murder, while Enriquez-Santiago pleaded guilty to lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy.
Carrillo pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was subsequently sentenced to between two and five years in state prison.
Ferguson, who was said to have delivered the fatal blow, will spend 10 years behind bars while Enriquez-Santiago was sentenced to two-to-five years incarceration.
The civil suit, filed on behalf of Kless’s father, John Kless, of Highland Falls, N.Y., also names the three attackers as defendants.
The complaint faults Lucy’s Hat Shop and the G Lounge for over-serving the three young men prior to the fatal altercation with Kless.
The suit says that the three defendants were “exceedingly inebriated” at the time they beat Kless and left him lying lifeless on the sidewalk.
The suit also claims that both Enriquez-Santiago and Carrillo were under the state’s legal drinking age of 21 at the time they were served “copious amounts” of booze at the establishments.
“Kevin Kless did not deserve to die and the time has come to hold Lucy’s Hat Shop and G Lounge responsible and accountable for their actions as they relate to his senseless and premature death,” attorney Michael F. Barrett, of the firm Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett and Bendesky, said in a statement. “Pennsylvania’s liquor liability laws make it illegal for bar owners to engage in such reckless conduct and permit bars to be held liable in such instances.”
Barrett is representing John Kless, who is suing in his capacity as administrator of his late son’s estate.
In his statement, Barrett said that he and his team look forward to presenting to a jury “all of the shocking facts that have come to light during our investigation.”
The three men who attacked Kless had stopped at G Lounge earlier in the night before they decided to have drinks at Lucy’s, according to the complaint.
In his own statement, attorney Joseph G. DeAngelo, Barrett’s co-counsel on the case, stressed that Lucy’s Hat Club embraced a regular culture of “alcohol-fueled rowdiness,” with a bar employee indicating that on a typical weekend night about 20 percent of the crowd is intoxicated to the point that “they don’t know what they’re doing and are out of control.
“The information we have learned in investigating this tragic case is troubling,” DeAngelo said in the statement. “Given the laws of this Commonwealth, which clearly reflect public policy concerns, these statements [from the employee] go right to the heart of plaintiff’s allegations in this case.”
The complaint, which Barrett and DeAngelo filed Aug. 22 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, names the following additional defendants: Four Corners Management LLC, Victor Holdings LLC, Best Lounge, Coop G. LLC, My G Investment LLC and Center City Entertainment LLC.
The lawsuit says that Kevin Kless sustained severe head trauma as a result of the violent blows delivered by the three assailants during the altercation on Chestnut Street.
Kless was rushed to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital but was unable to be saved, the suit states.
Ferguson, Carrillo and Enriquez-Santiago were apprehended by police six days after the beating death.
The suit contains wrongful death counts against all of the named defendants.
Kless’s father seeks more than $50,000 in both compensatory and punitive damages.
The case ID number is 130802395.