Friday, August 30, 2002
Nightclub Owner, Hollywood Activist LaPietra Sued Over Man’s Death
By DON PARRET, Staff Writer
The parents of a 27-year old man who died last year after a nightclub visit have sued the club’s owner, Hollywood cityhood movement leader Eugene LaPietra.
The wrongful death complaint alleges that Marcello “Nino” Maurizio obtained the drug Ecstasy while at the Circus Disco & Arena nightclub in Hollywood last September, and that he died from ingesting the substance.
Armen M. Tashjian of the Los Angeles law firm of Tashjian & Associates filed the suit on behalf of the parents, Michele and Teresa Maurizio of San Gabriel.
Tashjian said Maurizio obtained the drug in the club and later collapsed on the dance floor and began having convulsions.
The lawyer said that club personnel examined Maurizio for some time and then told his friends “to take him home as he was having a bad trip.”
When the friends arrived at Maurizio’s residence in Rosemead, Tashjian said he was still having convulsions and could not be removed from the car.
He said the friends drove him to the San Gabriel Valley Medical Center, where he later died.
The official cause of death was respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.
Tashjian said that since Circus Disco & Arena is located in a high-crime area, the defendants were obligated to have reasonable security measures in place and were required to protect customers while on the premises.
He contended the nightclub management failed to control sales, distribution and proliferation of dangerous and adulterated illegal drugs on the premises.
He further cited the defendants for “grossly negligent and reckless conduct” in not providing timely medical assistance or securing an ambulance when Maurizio was convulsing on the dance floor.
“It is tragic when a seemingly innocent ‘night on the town’ can result in a young man’s death,” Tashjian said. “When he walked into that dance club, he had a right to expect it was safe and secure, free of drugs and he would receive proper medical attention if needed.”
The suit seeks unspecified general and punitive damages as well as medical, legal and court costs.
LaPietra is a colorful and controversial figure who is spearheading the drive for Hollywood to break away from the city of Los Angeles. The measure will be on the Nov. 5 ballot, along with a better-known proposal for San Fernando Valley independence.
LaPietra did not return calls yesterday for comment.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company