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November 28, 2023

Russian Lady owner, employees being sued for Nov. 4 incident that forced closure

HBJ PHOTO | Matt Pilon The Russian Lady in Hartford.

A man from Windsor is suing the owners of a popular Hartford bar for an alleged assault at the business earlier this month, according to recent Hartford Superior Court filings.

Windsor resident Joshua Gilmore filed a lawsuit Monday against Jerry Fornarelli of Glastonbury, Stephen Leighton of Hartford, Lewis Rivera of New Britain, FYC Entertainment LLC, and 10 unnamed defendants for a Nov. 4 incident at the Russian Lady, 191 Ann Uccello St., Hartford.

A video of the incident that went viral earlier this month showed an altercation in the stairwell of the Russian Lady between a man and what appears to be security guards, who strike the man before he falls down the stairs.

After becoming aware of the video, the state Department of Consumer Protection's Drug Control Division has stepped in and opened an investigation. Meantime, the Russian Lady agreed to voluntarily suspend its liquor license, DCP said.

"DCP has opened an active investigation into the incident to determine what action should be taken," a DCP spokesperson said. "The video is disturbing, and not reflective of the behavior expected in our licensed establishments. We wish the individual who was injured a full and speedy recovery."

DCP officials said Monday that the investigation is still ongoing, and the owner continues to be cooperative.

"They will continue to remain closed as they re-evaluate and restructure their security team and protocols," DCP said.

Fornarelli is the owner and manager of FYC Entertainment LLC, which operates the Russian Lady bar and nightclub, and Leighton and Rivera are also affiliated with the business. The 10 unnamed defendants are “agents and/or employees” and affiliated/associated with Fornarelli, Leighton and FYC Entertainment, according to the lawsuit.

According to Gilmore’s lawsuit, which was filed by Hartford-based Attorney DeVaughn Ward, the Nov. 4 incident went as follows:

Gilmore was invited to the Russian Lady by FYC Entertainment on the evening of Nov. 3. After arriving, Gilmore was confronted and physically assaulted by the 10 unnamed defendants, according to the lawsuit.

Gilmore was thrown into a window and down two flights of stairs during the assault, according to the lawsuit, and he was struck repeatedly. He lost consciousness during the assault and woke up at the bottom of the stairwell inside the Russian Lady, with a laceration on the back of his head and blood coming out of his mouth.

Police showed up to the scene at about 1:45 a.m. Nov. 4, the suit says, and Gilmore was transported to Hartford Hospital for treatment on an 8 cm laceration on his head, a concussion,  fractured elbow, several other abrasions on his body.

As a result of the alleged damage during the incident, Gilmore is suing all the defendants for battery, negligent infliction of emotional distress, 
Fornarelli, Leighton, FYC Entertainment and the 10 “John Doe” defendants are being sued for negligence, among other things.

The lawsuit alleges that Rivera lied to police about the incident and he’s also being sued for false light invasion of privacy.

The final count in the lawsuit is against Fornarelli for his responsibility as sole member, manager and shareholder of FYC Entertainment to be held accountable for what happened at the Russian Lady that night. The lawsuit says that the “corporate veil of FYC Entertainment LLC should be pierced, and Fornarelli should be held liable to the Plaintiff for the debts of the FYC as alleged.”

Fornarelli did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

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