With jury trial set for October 2023 in Circuit Court, plaintiff files a proposed settlement
A personal injury complaint filed in late March against the owners of Siesta Key’s Crescent Club has been scheduled for a jury trial the week of Oct. 9, 2023, The Sarasota News Leader has learned.
Circuit Judge Andrea McHugh signed that order on June 27, court records show.
However, a July 19 filing in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court says the plaintiff has proposed a settlement of the case. No further documentation was shown in the court docket in regard to that as the News Leader reached its deadline for this week’s issue.
In early January 2019, CCSK Land Holdings LLC — whose principal is Siesta Key businessman and chiropractor Dr. Gary Kompothecras — bought the Crescent Club for $3.4 million. The club is located at 6519 Midnight Pass Road.
The original complaint, filed on March 24 in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court, originally named Kompothecras’ son, Alex, along with CCSK Land Holdings, as the defendants. The document called Alex Kompothecras the manager of the Crescent Club.
An amended complaint filed on April 15 removed Alex from the litigation and substituted Christopher “Topher” Nalefski, manager of the Crescent Club.
An Oct. 4, 2016 YouTube video produced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune called Nalefski “one of the renowned mixologists … at the State Street Eating House + Cocktails” at that time. The restaurant is in downtown Sarasota.
Formally, a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal was filed on April 15 in regard to Alex Kompothecras’ inclusion in the original complaint.
Filed on behalf of David Scotti, a resident of Allegheny County, Penn., the amended complaint says that, on Oct. 8, 2021, Scotti visited the Crescent Club. The lawsuit contends that the failure of CCSK Land Holdings and Nalefski “to maintain [the club] in a reasonably safe condition and to warn business invitees of dangerous conditions existing at the resort” — plus other allegations — led to Scotti’s suffering “bodily injury … resulting in pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, permanent and significant scarring, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expense of hospitalization, medical and nursing care and treatment, loss of earnings, loss of ability to earn money, aggravation of a previously existing condition, and activation of a latent condition, all of which are permanent …”
Among those other allegations, the lawsuit says that the CCSK Land Holdings and Nalefski “negligently failed to patrol the premises and provide security to the patrons,” “[n]egligently failed to control access to the premises,” “[n]egligently failed to … patrol and guard against foreseeable criminal attacks on the premises,” “[n]egligently created a foreseeable risk of criminal assault,” and negligently failed to protect patrons, including Scotti, “from the particular vulnerability to crimes and acts presented by the type of establishment [that CCSK Land Holdings] ran, to wit: a ‘dive bar’ …”
The complaint points out that Scotti is seeking damages in excess of $30,000, “exclusive of costs, interest and attorneys’ fees.” It adds, “The actual value of Plaintiff’s complaint will be determined by a fair and just jury in accordance with Article 1, Section 21 [of the Florida Constitution].” That section says, “The courts shall be open to every person for redress of any injury, and justice shall be administered without sale, denial or delay.”
Through an online search, the News Leader learned that Scotti is the founder of the Scotti Law Group in Pittsburgh. His practice focuses on construction law, the firm’s website says. In May, Super Lawyers called him the top-rated construction litigation attorney in Pittsburgh.
CCSK Land Holdings’ contentions
In an April 25 answer to the complaint, CCSK Land Holdings admitted that Nalefski was the manager of the Crescent Club “on the date of the alleged incident.” However, the Answer denied almost all of the other allegations.
Moreover, in its affirmative defenses, the Answer points out that Scotti’s complaint “fails to state a cause of action as it does not specifically state ultimate facts as to an alleged dangerous condition and/or negligent security used nor has [Scotti] properly alleged knowledge thereof on the part of [the owners of the Crescent Club].”
Then the Answer contends that Scotti’s own negligence resulted in the “the accident described in the Amended Complaint …” Therefore, the Answer continues, Scotti’s claims are invalid or, “in the alternative,” since his “negligence contributed to the accident and alleged damages,” any damages would have to be reduced in accord with his “degree of fault.”
Further, the Answer says, “[T]o the extent that [Scotti] was under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug and was more than 50% at fault for his own harm,” the Florida Statutes would bar his claims for damages. The Answer cited Section 768.36 of the Florida Statutes.
Additionally, the Answer points out, “There were sufficient intervening and superseding causes, including sudden emergency and/or ‘Acts of God’ and/or the negligence of other persons, parties or entities” over which the Crescent Club had not control.
The Answer indicates that co-defendants would be named in the case, including other negligent parties “or witnesses and/or other persons present at the time of the alleged incident, including the other persons involved in an altercation on the premises.” Those individuals who “who may be liable and are identifiable at this time are known to [Scotti]” and would be identified during the discovery phase of the litigation, the complaint points out.
Discovery is the legal term for parties in a lawsuit to obtain facts and materials — and conduct depositions — that they believe are pertinent to the case. That investigative process “often turns up facts and documents that were previously unknown — to at least one party to the lawsuit anyway,” UCLA Law School professor Paul Bergman wrote in an article on the NOLO website.
Moreover, the CCSK Answer says, “[T]he treating physicians in this case may have engaged in excessive billing or unnecessary treatment that was not reasonably foreseeable.” It adds, “The cause of any damages to [Scotti] was open and obvious and [he] expressly assumed the ordinary risk incident to this.”
The Answer also contends that the Crescent Club owners and the manager “had insufficient notice regarding the problems” about which Scotti has complained. “Any and all conditions complained of by [Scotti] existed for such a short period of time that there was no notice to [the club’s owners] so that corrective action could be taken.”
Further, the Answer alleges that any disfigurement or injuries Scotti suffered “are a result of a pre-existing condition or were a congenital, and/or unrelated medical condition, disease, illness, or infection or were caused by a subsequent injury or injuries and were not caused or aggravated by any alleged acts of [the club’s owners].”
CCSK and Nalefski are being represented by attorneys Marcella L. Garcia and Anthony J. Petrillo of the Tampa firm Luks, Santaniello, Petrillo, Cohen & Peterfriend.