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Kemper Development settles Munchbar wrongful death lawsuit

The Kemper Development Company settled a wrongful death lawsuit earlier this week, paying an undisclosed sum to the children of a man who died in 2012 after an altercation at the notorious and now-closed Munchbar.

Jacob Steinle was at the Munchbar on Feb. 9, 2012 when he became involved in an altercation with Oracle Vice President of Emerging Markets Dain Cilley. What began as a verbal altercation inside the Munchbar turned into a physical fight outside when Cilley reportedly punched Steinle in the head, causing Steinle to fall into a wall, according to court documents.

Steinle was found dead four days later after suffering a concussion and seizure, according to the Paula Harnes, Steinle’s mother and representative for his estate. It is unclear if he had sought medical treatment following the fight.

Cilley settled the wrongful death lawsuit against him for $1 million in November 2015.

Munchbar security officials reportedly kicked the group out of the restaurant and bar before Kemper Security officials outside the venue witnessed the altercation continue for several minutes leading up to the fatal blow without intervening, the lawsuit alleged.

Per the Munchbar’s lease with the development company, Kemper Development had “exclusive control” and was responsible for security in the “common areas” of Bellevue Square, according to court documents. The Munchbar was required to pay for security in the common areas.

“Security personnel testified that they believed a fight and assault were about to occur, but instead of taking efforts to stop a potential fight or assault, they stood by idly … The presence of Kemper’s security was of such a superficial nature that Cilley was unaware that security was even present until he was pepper sprayed by security after assaulting Steinle,” the documents continue.

The now-defunct Munchbar was known to be a raucous business with safety issues.

In the two years that the Munchbar was in business, Bellevue police responded to more than 370 incidents there. Following its closure, then-Police Chief Linda Pillo asked the City Council for an ordinance that would allow her to declare a business or residence a chronic nuisance.

The Munchbar closed after a Renton man was shot multiple times and killed on Christmas Eve 2012. The family of victim DeShawn Milliken also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Kemper Development in 2014.

The Steinle case went to trial last fall, but both sides moved to settle before a verdict was reached. The settlement was approved on Feb. 14.

Charges against Brewhaha, LLC (which owned and operated the Munchbar) and Oracle were dismissed with prejudice in September 2016. Harnes will be appealing the decision.

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