With no sign of productive settlement discussions, negligence case involving Siesta Key’s Crescent Club on track for October 2023 jury trial

Attorneys for club seeking copies of plaintiff’s medical records and have deposition scheduled

It appears that an effort to settle a negligence lawsuit involving an alleged incident at Siesta Key’s Crescent Club in October 2021 was unsuccessful, as indicated by recent 12th Judicial Circuit Court records.

Additionally, while the case initially was assigned to Circuit Judge Andrea McHugh, the Sarasota County Clerk of the Circuit Court’s records this week showed that Circuit Judge Kevin R. Bruning is presiding.

Previously a partner with the Sarasota law firm of Bentley & Bruning — which has been transitioned into Bentley Goodrich Kison —  Judge Bruning was unopposed in his 2020 election to the Circuit Court bench, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office records say.

In an order dated Sept. 7, Bruning confirmed the schedule of a jury trial in the Crescent Club case. That is set for a trial term beginning on Oct. 9, 2023.

The order adds that no estimate of the length of the trial has been determined. It will be conducted in the Silvertooth Judicial Center on Ringling Boulevard in downtown Sarasota, the order adds.

A pre-trial conference is scheduled for Aug. 7, 2023, the order notes.

One other recent filing in the case says that the plaintiff, David Scotti of Pittsburgh, is to be deposed on Nov. 1 via Zoom. That notice was filed by Marcella L. Garcia of the Tampa firm Luks, Santaniello, Petrillo, Cohen & Peterfriend; she is the lead attorney for CCSK Land Holdings LLC, the owner of the Crescent Club. Siesta Key businessman and chiropractor Dr. Gary Kompothecras is the principal of that limited liability company.

Originally, another court record shows, Scotti was to have been deposed on Aug. 9.

As The Sarasota News Leader has reported, Scotti has alleged that the failure of CCSK Land Holdings and Christopher “Topher” Nalefski, the club manager, “to maintain [the business] 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 contentions, the lawsuit says that 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’ …”

Scotti is being represented by attorney Joel Williams of the Morgan & Morgan firm in Tampa.

A News Leader online search found 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.

The Crescent Club’s April 25 Answer to Scotti’s complaint argued that the lawsuit “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 contended that Scotti’s own negligence resulted in the “the accident described in the Amended Complaint …” Therefore, the Answer continued, 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 said, “[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.

The News Leader did ask Kaitlyn R. Perez, community affairs director of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, whether any report about the alleged incident was filed with that agency in October 2021. After searching through the Sheriff’s Office’s records, Perez responded that she could find no document with Scotti’s name on it, and the only report of an incident at the club on the date listed in the lawsuit involved a noise complaint.

Copies of health care records sought

Another document filed with the court — on July 21 — notified Scotti and his lawyers that the attorneys for CCSK Land Holdings were providing notice of plans to issue subpoenas to obtain records from a variety of health care-related entities, “if no objection [was] received from any party …”

A day later, Scotti’s attorney filed a response, saying that Scotti waived his objection to that notice. However, Scottie requested that CCSK Land Holdings provide him with electronic copies of any records that the company’s attorneys received from the entities on the list. Failing that, the response added, Scotti would object to the use of those records at trial “and would further reserve the right” to make a motion to compel the turning over of such copies to him; a motion for court sanctions; or a court order that would limit or prevent CCSK’s attorneys from using the materials during the trial.

Among those on the list in the CCSK list to produce records were the following: All about Eyes in Pittsburgh; Allegheny Orthopedic Associates in McMurray, Penn; Costco Health Solutions Inc. in Plantation, Fla.; David Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Center in Pittsburgh; two physicians in Pennsylvania; St. Clair Hospital in Pittsburgh, which is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, its website notes; and UPMC Health Benefits Inc. in Tallahassee.