A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the Californos in Westport where Officer Thomas Orr III was killed while off-duty. The lawsuit, which was filed by the father of Orr, names both the restaurant’s owner and the man who is suspected of killing the officer.
Witnesses claim that an argument occurred on the Californos patio on the evening of Sunday, August 20, 2017. One witness reported seeing a man strike another man in the face which caused him to fall to the ground. After the alleged assault, a man fired into the crowd, ultimately killing Orr who was not only off-duty at the time, but was also not involved in the initial argument. Orr was at Californos, located at 4124 Pennsylvania Ave., to attend a party for young professionals. Another woman was also injured by a gunshot that night as well.
Using photos from the party and those found on social media, police were able to identify Sean Steward as the suspect. Steward has since been charged with second degree murder, first degree assault, and two counts of armed criminal action in the death of Orr.
The wrongful death lawsuit, alleges that Californos “has a history of physical assaults and other violent crimes and criminal activity,” and specifically cites incidents at the 'Recovery Sunday event' that Orr was attending at the time of his death.
According to Orr's father, the Recovery Sunday event targeted 'urban professionals,' featured 'bottomless mimosas,' and an all-day party that lasted from 10 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. The suit goes on to state that the owner of Californos knew Californos and the Recovery Sunday event had the potential for danger because the restaurant began monitoring admission and checking for prohibited items before people were allowed in.
The complaint argues:
“By advertising the presence of a door staff to monitor admission and check for prohibited items,... Californos expressly assured Recovery Sunday attendees, it voluntarily assumed a duty to ensure the absence of weapons on the premises and to control the patrons therein.”
In the lawsuit, Orr Jr.'s attorney from Smith Law Office, LLC, claims that in the past three years, there have been 92 violent offenses in the Westport Entertainment District, 83 aggravated assaults, seven domestic violence aggravated assaults, and two homicides.
In an attempt to prevent crime in Westport, the Kansas City Council voted 8-5 to turn over ownership of the sidewalks to Westport business owners. Californos is not in the privatization zone, which includes Westport Road from Broadway to Mill, and on Pennsylvania from 40th to Archibald. Beginning in April, the new security measures will go into effect on weekends from 11:00 p.m. until 4:00 a.m. People entering these areas will be carded and must go through a metal detector.
“Due to the lack of security on Defendant Californos’ premises, the Defendant and his associates were able to physically attack a Recovery Sunday attendee, run away from the altercation, pull out firearms, fire recklessly into the crowd of bystanders, flee the premises, and enter a vehicle without being stopped," the lawsuit says.
Have you lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person? You might be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation for your losses. Contact our St. Joseph team of personal injury attorneys to schedule your consultation today.