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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | Oxnard

Parents Sue Club Over Teen's Death

May 17, 2000|TRACY WILSON

The parents of an Oxnard teenager killed in a high-speed crash last month are suing Leonardo's nightclub for wrongful death, alleging club owners sold their 15-year-old daughter and her friend liquor before the accident.

Alfonso and Beatrice Elizarraras claim that club owners knowingly allowed their underage daughter, Sophia, and her 18-year-old friend, Patricia Castro, into the Oxnard bar on April 6 and served them alcohol in violation of state law.

Both girls were killed in a car wreck later that night.

Castro lost control of her car while traveling more than 115 mph on the Ventura Freeway, according to the California Highway Patrol. The car flipped over near Seaward Avenue, hitting a metal light pole and several trees.

Both girls died of head and chest injuries, and authorities said neither of them was wearing a seat belt.

The lawsuit filed May 9 by Sophia's parents in Ventura County Superior Court alleges that the crash occurred as a direct result of the club owner's negligence.

"The owners of Leonardo's do let minors into their drinking establishment with a conscious disregard to their safety by allowing them to drink alcoholic beverages," the lawsuit states.

No one could be reached at the club on Wagon Wheel Road for comment Tuesday. A lawyer who represented Leonardo's in a similar lawsuit last year was unavailable.

In that case, a female patron who claimed she was assaulted by other customers sued Leonardo's for failing to provide adequate security. The woman also alleged that club owners allowed minors under age 21 to be served alcohol. That case was settled out of court in December.

The lawsuit filed by the Elizarraras family makes similar claims. It alleges that Sophia was hit over the head with a beer bottle and repeatedly kicked by three patrons while in the bar.

The suit claims she received no medical attention and accuses club owners of failing to provide adequate security to prevent such an attack from happening.

Filed by Ventura attorney Earnest C. S. Bell, the lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive and general damages. It also seeks reimbursement of medical and funeral expenses.

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