New York Post - 2/1/07
The family of slain grad student Imette St. Guillen yesterday filed the first lawsuit stemming from her vicious murder, targeting accused killer Darryl Littlejohn and the bar owner who hired him as a bouncer, The Post has learned.
Citing St. Guillen's final heart-wrenching moments before she was found bound and naked in a desolate Brooklyn lot, the 13-page legal document alleges her death resulted directly from negligence of the owner of the now-shuttered Falls Bar and the brutality of its employee, Littlejohn, a paroled violent felon.
The suit also contends The Falls, whose principal owner is Michael Dorrian, knew of Littlejohn's criminal history. Dorrian is a son of Jack Dorrian, a well-known pub owner whose family runs several saloons.
"As a result of [their] actions, [St. Guillen] endured conscious pain and suffering and was aware of her impending death," the lawsuit says of her abduction and strangulation after she left the bar on Jan. 25, 2006.
The suit was filed in The Bronx because Littlejohn is being held on Rikers Island.
Dan Gittner, an attorney for the Dorrian family, did not return a call seeking comment.
Joseph Tacopina, the family's lawyer, said the suit "is the first step in holding those responsible for this tragedy accountable."
The lawsuit does not seek specific financial damage, but a final ruling could reach into the tens of millions of dollars.
St. Guillen's mother, Maureen, has established several educational charities and endowments in her daughter's name, including at Imette's alma mater, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she graduated posthumously last year.
"Maureen has always said the family is not looking for money for themselves," Tacopina said.
The St. Guillens also are expected to sue three state agencies - the Division of Parole, the Board of Parole and the Department of Correction - for letting Littlejohn out of prison on parole. They filed a notice of claim against those agencies last year.
The 24-year-old student's death prompted enactment of a law that allows for the closure of bars, clubs and cabarets that hire security guards without making mandated background checks to prevent criminals and ex-cons from working there.
Littlejohn has denied wrongdoing. He is a suspect in several other abductions and rapes.