Nightclub’s Bankruptcy Makes it Difficult for Shooting Victim’s Loved Ones to Pursue Wrongful Death Claim

The owner of the Cameo nightclub in Cincinnati, the site of the deadly shooting in March of 2017 that holds the record as the worst mass shooting in Cincinnati history, has filed for bankruptcy. This filing halted the progress of the wrongful death claim filed by the family of O’Bryan Spikes, a nightclub patron who died in the shooting.

Spikes’ family alleges that the nightclub owner maintained an unsafe premises inside the club by permitting patrons to bypass the club’s security check in exchange for paying a higher cover charge. According to law enforcement who attended the scene after the shooting, three firearms entered the building through this security loophole. When a gunfight broke out between two groups of club patrons, Spikes was killed by a stray bullet.

The Automatic Stay and Wrongful Death Claims

When an individual or a company files for bankruptcy, the automatic stay goes into effect. This is a court order that requires all collection attempts and pending lawsuits to come to a stop so the filing party can work through the bankruptcy process. In some cases, a bankruptcy discharges the damages the bankrupt party owes to the claimant. However, this is not always the case – when the wrongful death or other type of civil claimant can prove that the indebted party was grossly negligent in causing his or her damages, the automatic stay may be overturned and the filing party may be required to compensate the victim for damages.

The wrongful death claim from Spikes’ family is seeking at least $25,000. According to the late 2017 bankruptcy filing, the nightclub has approximately $500,000 in liabilities to close to 50 creditors. The filing also states that the club has about $50,000 in assets. According to a lawyer for Spikes’ family, the family will continue to explore its options for pursuing compensation for their damages related to Spikes’ death, including seeking a judgment of restitution from the court.

Using Bankruptcy to Avoid or Mitigate Compensation for Victims

Once can draw parallels between this case and the ongoing bankruptcy case of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis & St. Paul. In that case, victims who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of church officials have claimed that the Archdiocese used its bankruptcy to avoid having to compensate them for their damages related to the abuse. However, the group of victims and their lawyers have continued to fight to ensure that part of the Archdiocese’s bankruptcy plan includes sufficient compensation for abuse victims. Potentially, Spikes’ family and others pursuing compensation for damages related to the deadly shooting can become more involved in the nightclub’s bankruptcy plan.

Work with an Experienced Fox River Grove Bankruptcy Lawyer

To learn more about the bankruptcy process, its different chapters, and how your case can potentially proceed, contact our team of experienced bankruptcy lawyers at Newland & Newland, LLP today to set up your initial legal consultation in our office. We serve clients in the Arlington Heights, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Libertyville, Mundelein, Buffalo Grove, Schaumburg, Elk Grove, and Itasca areas.

(image courtesy of Marcela Laskoski)

  • Newland & Newland LLP, Attorneys, Arlington Heights, IL
  • Lawyer.com