La Mexicana restaurant in Pontoon Beach sued over shooting death

Andrea Dearden Aug. 23, 2012, 3:32am

A Pontoon Beach restaurant is accused of causing the death of a Granite City man who was shot and killed there last year.

Brenda Ortiz, as special administrator of the estate of Jesus Ortiz-Flores, and Luis F. Ortiz filed a lawsuit Aug. 15 in Madison County Circuit Court against La Mexicana Inc., also known as La Mexicana Restaurant Inc., Orlando Gudino, Berzain Gudino and Oscar Guidno. Choteau Properties Inc. is also listed as a defendant.

The 37-page lawsuit stems from a shooting that happened at La Mexicana on Chouteau Trace Parkway in Pontoon Beach on August 19, 2011, the suit states. According to statements made by police to media immediately following the incident, Jesus Ortiz-Flores, 20, was shot once in the head in the parking lot of the La Mexicaca restaurant and died immediately. Plaintiff Luis Ortiz, who was 18 at the time, was allegedly shot multiple times during the incident but survived.

Brenda Ortiz and Luis Ortiz accuse La Mexicana restauraunt, the owners and managers and Choteau Properties, the owner of the building, of directly contributing to the shootings. The Ortizes contend the restaurant served alcohol to the alleged shooter, Fernando Gallegos, 17, allowing him to become intoxicated and then attack Ortiz-Flores, causing his death. They say the defendants' actions constitute a violation of the Illinois Dram Shop Act.

The Ortizes also accuse the defendants of violating the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. They allege La Mexicana, the Gudinos and Choteau Properties were negligent for failing to take reasonable actions to protect customers, allowing a patron with weapons to be on the premises and allowing people inside the restaurant who were "quarrelsome, disorderly, hostile and vicious."

Ortiz-Flores is survived by a mother, sisters and brothers who depended on his support, according to the lawsuit. The family says they have lost their means of support while also suffering a loss of society, consortium, guidance and companionship. The Ortizes ask to be awarded more than $550,000 in damages plus courts costs.

Attorneys D. Jeffrey Ezra and Sarah D. Smith of Collinsville are representing the Ortizes.

Madison County Circuit Court Case No. 12-L-1300

Editor's note: In the complaint, the spelling of the last name 'Gudino' also appears as 'Guidino' and 'Guidno.'

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