A Dram Shop Lawyer Success Story
Publisher: Philadelphia Daily News Author: Not Given Date: Thursday, January 30, 2003 Headline: $1.5M awarded to family of slain man Killed in 2000 by bartender at speakeasy
The family of a North Philadelphia man who was shot and killed inside a neighborhood speakeasy – the type of illegal establishment known for violence – has won a $1.5 million judgment against the bartender who killed him.
“Mike Bullock was a good guy,” said attorney Evan Aidman, of Ardmore, who represented Bullock’s estate. “He was a hard-working man who supported his children in an area where men don’t always live with and support their children. He happened to make an error in judgment by going with a bad guy to a place to get a drink.” The large award, however, probably never will be collected. The bartender is serving a state prison sentence.
“It’s very hard to imagine collecting on a judgment like this and a person would only bring this kind of lawsuit for reasons not entirely related to money,” Aidman said.
“We brought the lawsuit partly because we thought it was the right thing to do and we wanted to find the family some understanding of what happened,” Aidman said.
The verdict came Monday in a one-day, nonjury trial before Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Norman Ackerman.
Bullock was killed Thanksgiving Day 2000 when he went to have a drink with an acquaintance at the illegal club at 2437 N. Newkirk St., Aidman said. He left behind a common-law wife and four children.
Bullock, who worked as a warehouse laborer, was killed after a dispute had broken out in the speakeasy between Bullock’s friend and bartender George Connor. Connor whipped out a .38-caliber handgun and fired, hitting Bullock in the chest, Aidman said. The bartender pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison.
“The guy only got five years in jail. In a couple of years he’s going to be back on the street,” Aidman said. “[Bullock’s family] understood from the get-go that the likelihood of collecting any money on this was remote.”