The son of chef Stefano Riccioletti filed the suit Thursday
By Willard Shepard
The son of the South Beach chef killed recently in what police call a hit-and-run has sued the driver and the Nikki Beach club where she worked, accusing the famous nightspot of letting her drink and drive.
The wrongful death lawsuit filed Thursday by Jacopo Riccioletti claims that the operators of Nikki Beach Miami allowed 20-year-old employee Karlie Tomica to drink underage and on the job, and then drive off drunk.
That helped cause the accident that killed Shore Club executive chef Stefano Riccioletti, 49, early on Jan. 28 outside the Shelborne Hotel at 1801 Collins Ave, the lawsuit said.
“She was stupid. She killed my father and he was a great man, and I miss him a lot,” Jacopo Riccioletti told NBC 6 South Florida.
The lawsuit was filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against Tomica and Nikki Beach Miami’s owner, Penrod Brothers Inc.
Tomica was driving a 2007 Dodge 4-door that struck Stefano Riccioletti, knocking him into the hotel’s driveway, an arrest affidavit said. He was killed at the scene, police said.
Tomica did not stay at the scene but drove to her apartment on the 5600 block of Collins Avenue, and a good Samaritan followed her and helped police find her, according to 911 calls. The good Samaritan said she appeared to be “really drunk.”
Tomica faces a charge of leaving the scene of a crash involving death.
Tomica’s lawyer could not immediately comment on the lawsuit Thursday.
A Nikki Beach spokeswoman issued a statement Thursday night.
“Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of chef Stefano Riccioletti and our hearts go out to his children,” said Julie Fogel, the global public relations and communications director for Nikki Beach Worldwide. “We have not been served with a lawsuit and are therefore unable to comment at this time.”
The lawsuit said the club knew that Tomica was under the legal drinking age when she was served alcohol on its premises during and/or after her work shift on the night of the accident. She became “intoxicated to the extent she could not drive safely,” the suit said.
According to the suit, “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.”
When Tomica cashed out that night she had to get permission from managers to leave, and they knew or should have known that she was drunk and would have been a danger to the public if she drove.
The Coral Gables law firm of Silva & Silva is representing Riccioletti.
“And 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,” personal injury attorney Carlos Silva said. “They know that she drinks there. This is not a first time for her.”
The club and Tomica have 20 days to respond to the allegations that have been made against them in court.
Jacopo Riccioletti, who has two younger brothers, said the lawsuit cannot bring his father back – but said his father deserved better than to die the way he did.
“He was a really special person,” he said. “He has a sense of duty.”