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The son of the well-known chef killed in a South Beach hit-and-run has filed a lawsuit against the driver and her employer, nightclub Nikki Beach, as first reported by NBC6.
Though blood alcohol test reports are pending, a witness to the crash said bartenders 20-year-old Karlie Tomica, was "really drunk" when she plowed into the Shore Club's executive chef Stefano Riccioletti on Collins Avenue in the early morning hours of January 28. The witness followed Tomica to her home, where he said she could barely stand.
The victim's son, Jacopo Riccioletti, alleges Nikki Beach operators are at fault for leting Tomica consume alcohol underage and on the job before driving home drunk. She struck Stefano Riccioletti about 35 minutes after her shift at the oceanfront club ended, according to WSVN.
Tomica was "served and consumed alcohol at the club, with the club's knowledge and authority that she was underage the lawful drinking age," reads the complaint, embedded below. It states the club "knew or should have known that she was going to drive. It was foreseeable to the club that she posed a dangerous risk of injury or death to other motorists and/or pedestrians."
"She couldn't drink," Riccioletti said. "I don't know why they let them drink."
Ironically, Nikki Beach is named for the owner's teenaged daughter who was killed by a drunk driver in 1997.
"Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of chef Stefano Riccioletti and our hearts go out to his children," the nightclub's global public relations and communications director, Julie Fogel, told NBC6. "We have not been served with a lawsuit and are therefore unable to comment at this time."
Tomica identified herself a "party princess" on her Twitter account and had previously posted about drinking alcohol.
"She was serving alcohol and she was drinking, and when you leave the premises you have to check out with your manager, and they had to know that she had been drinking," attorney Carlos Silva said. "They know that she drinks there. This is not a first time for her.
Riccioletti's death left two younger children without a father, too. Their mother, Patrizia Pesce, told WSVN she had a message for Tomica.
"If you think you made a mistake, if you really think you made a mistake, now she has to do something to show us that she understands that she made a mistake," Pesce said. "I'm not saying that I want her to apologize personally. What I mean is that, turn your life around and do something positive with it because, so far it's been a mess."
UPDATE, 6:45 p.m.: Fogel emailed a more in-depth statement to The Huffington Post from Steve Savola, General Counsel to Nikki Beach owners Penrod Brothers, Inc., stating Tomica signed documents stating she would adhere to unspecified strict policies that govern all employees at the club:
Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Stefano Riccioletti and our hearts go out to his children. The principals of Penrod Brothers, Inc have been in business for well over 40 years, have had thousands of employees around the world and have never had a situation like this. Karlie Tomica was hired by Nikki Beach Miami as a part-time bartender in mid-November 2012 and came with 4 years of experience in the hospitality industry; first at Palm City Grill (Palm City, Florida) and for the past 2 years as a cocktail server at Hyatt Regency Miami’s bar & lounge, Pure Verde, where she is still employed. Tomica signed all documents stating she would adhere to the strict policies that all employees must agree to. As we will only address factual information, we have no further comments at this time.
According to Random Pixels, Tomica has retained high-profile lawyer Mark Shapiro, a partner in well-known defense attorney Roy Black's firm Black, Srebnick, Kornspan & Stumpf, P.A.