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Family of Man Killed Near Dolphin Nightclub Sues City, Club Owner

By Paul Biasco | April 20, 2015 7:49pm
 A shooting at the Dolphin killed two.
A shooting at the Dolphin killed two.
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Steve Jensen

BUCKTOWN — The family of a 35-year-old man who was killed outside the Dolphin nightclub in March filed a lawsuit against the city and club Monday.

The family of Deonta Jackson's 11-year-old daughter claims the city ignored Ald. Scott Waguespack's (32nd) repeated requests to close Dolphin before the shooting, which left Jackson and another man dead.

Despite Waguespack's requests, the lawsuit says, the club remained open.

Because of this, the suit claims the city was negligent and caused an unreasonably dangerous situation.

"Alderman Waguespack made numerous requests for [Dolphin's] late-night license to be revoked," said Robert J. Smoler, Jackson's attorney. "A tragedy like this could have been prevented had the city honored those requests.”

The March 16 shooting occurred after a fight inside Dolphin, 2200 N. Ashland Ave., spilled out into the street just after 3 a.m., police said.

Those involved in the fight were sitting outside the club when a gunman opened fire, leaving Jackson and 41-year-old Elijah Moore dead, Chicago Police said. A third person was wounded.

The shooting remains under investigation, and there are no suspects in custody.

Luneisha Wade, the mother of Jackson's daughter, filed the five-count complaint Monday on behalf of herself and Jackson's daughter against the City of Chicago, Dolphin and the club's owner, Sam Menetti.

Menetti could not be reached for comment.

Wade lives in Kentucky with Jackson's daughter but, she is originally from Chicago, according to her attorney.

Wade is representing her daughter, who is the sole plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The suit alleges wrongful death and seeks more than $250,000 in damages.

Jackson was pushed toward the north exit doors of the nightclub, and while he was being pushed, the gunman approached Jackson and shot him dead, according to the lawsuit.

The Dolphin has been cited and fined more than a dozen times since 2006 and was closed in 2010, but reopened "per a court order" according to a mayor's spokeswoman.

Since 2013 there have been 11 aggravated batteries, 11 assaults, 42 batteries and one sexual assault in the Dolphin or in the immediate surrounding area, according to police data.

Two of the aggravated batteries were stabbings, according to police data.

The nightclub has remained closed since the morning of the shooting.

The owner of the club voluntarily closed for 60 days, according to John Holden, a spokesman for the city's Law Department.

Holden said the department has not had a chance to review the suit filed Monday and was unable to comment.

Immediately after the shooting a spokeswoman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city would seek to bring a case against the club to shut it down, but that case has not been filed, according to Cook County court records.

Waguespack, alderman of the 32nd Ward where Dolphin is located, ripped the city for not pulling the Dolphin's license before the shooting.

"It's frustrating because we really pushed hard to get some of these bad actor, late-night businesses closed down. It's hard when you go to the Liquor Commission and they keep these places open," he said the day of the shooting.

The alderman had called for the closure of the club after previous violent incidents.

The 13,000-square-foot Green Dolphin underwent a $1 million renovation in 2012 and reopened as the Dolphin in January 2013 with a focus on electronic dance music and the dance club.

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