RIVERSIDE: Jury awards $40 million in TGI Fridays stabbing
A couple sued in 2009 when their son was killed after a fight at the Galleria at Tyler restaurant.
A Riverside couple has won a $40 million award – one of Riverside County’s biggest civil verdicts ever – in a suit over their son’s 2009 stabbing at a TGI Fridays.
Orlando Jordan, a 33-year-old Riverside resident, was stabbed to death at the TGI Fridays at the Galleria at Tyler in January 2009 after a fight with two other men.
Rey and Carmen Jordan sued TGI Fridays and the Riverside restaurant’s operator, New Jersey-based Briad Group, arguing that employees knowingly served alcohol to intoxicated minors, including one of their son’s attackers, said attorney Nicholas Rowley, who represented Carmen Jordan in the trial.
Court records confirmed that a Riverside County Superior Court jury decided in favor of the Jordans on Thursday, June 18, though court documents with more details were unavailable Friday. A court verdict form provided by Rowley showed the jury awarded the Jordans $40 million for the loss of their son’s “love, companionship, comfort, care” and other qualities.
Briad Group officials, a TGI Fridays spokesperson and Glendale attorney Thomas Gmelich, who represented Briad in the case, could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
On Jan. 24, 2009, Orlando Jordan was at the restaurant with his girlfriend when her son, Michael Derek Castillo, a 20-year-old Moreno Valley man, showed up with a friend, Louis Alex Martinez, a 27-year-old Riverside resident, according to news reports at the time.
Castillo and Jordan exchanged words and got into a fight, police said at the time. Officers, who were already at the mall, arrested Castillo and Martinez. Both men later pleaded guilty to felony assault with a deadly weapon.
During the altercation Jordan, a longtime Wells Fargo bank worker and Pittsburgh Steelers fan, was stabbed. He later died at Riverside Community Hospital.
In the criminal case, Martinez, now 33, initially was charged with murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge, according to court records. He was sentenced in March 2011 to four years in state prison.
Castillo, now 26, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and pleaded guilty to that charge before trial. He was sentenced to three years in state prison in April 2010.
Rowley said California law gives legal immunity to bars and restaurants that serve minors, except when they’re obviously drunk.
“We were able to prove that (Castillo) was already obviously intoxicated at the time they served him,” Rowley said, adding that Castillo ordered the equivalent of 12 servings of alcohol in 30 minutes.
According to the company website, the Briad Group, based in Livingston, N.J., is the largest TGI Friday’s franchisee in the U.S. with 67 locations in seven states. The company also owns 60 Wendy’s restaurant on the East Coast, a frozen yogurt chain and a few Marriott and Hilton hotels.
In 2013, Briad ranked 11th on the Franchise Times Restaurant 200 list with annual sales of $332,439,000.