The son of a South Beach chef killed in a hit-and-run last month has sued the 20-year-old suspect and a club where she worked.
Stefano Riccioletti died before sunrise on Collins Avenue while walking to his executive chef job at Terrazza in the Shore Club hotel.
With help from a Good Samaritan who followed the driver, police caught up with the suspect about four miles north as she headed home.
Karlie Tomica, a self-proclaimed “party princess,” was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident. Toxicology results are pending. Tomica went to high school on the Treasure Coast and is a former student at Florida International University.
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The lawsuit was filed this week in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against Tomica and the parent company of Nikki Beach by Riccioletti’s 19-year-old son Jacopo. It alleges that Tomica was intoxicated or “otherwise impaired” before getting into her car Jan. 28 to leave work, and claims she was negligent while driving.
The amount Riccioletti’s family is seeking will not be determined until after further litigation, but their attorney Elisabeth Culmo of the Coral Gables law firm Silva & Silva said it will amount to millions.
The case is of “significant magnitude” because Riccioletti was an accomplished chef providing for his family, Culmo said. In addition, she said, the intangible loss of a father for his children is “immeasurable.”
Riccioletti also has a daughter, Camilla, 12, and a son, Filippo, 9.
Tomica lawyer Mark Shapiro did not return calls Friday.
In a statement from Nikki Beach’s lawyer Steve Savola, the club expressed its “deepest thoughts and prayers” for the family and addressed Tomica’s employment history. The lawyer said Tomica was hired by Nikki Beach as a part-time bartender in November 2012 and had four years of experience in the hospitality industry.
The statement said that Tomica remains employed at the Hyatt Regency’s bar Pure Verde.
“Tomica signed all documents stating she would adhere to the strict policies that all employees must agree to. As we will only address factual information, we have no further comments at this time,” the statement said.
The South Beach club’s owner, Jack Penrod, named it for his daughter Nicole after she was killed in 1998 by a drunken driver.
Tomica is free on $10,000 bond while awaiting a hearing set for Feb. 27.
Culmo called this case indicative of “an epidemic” in Miami-Dade County: death and injury caused by underage drinking.
“Bars and nightclubs are contributing because they’re apparently willing to serve underage patrons,” she said.
Silva & Silva also has a case against the club LIV at the Fontainebleau, in which an underage patron left the club and rear-ended their client’s car, killing her at 80 mph.