The mother of a man killed in a shooting at a Marlboro County nightclub earlier this year has reached a $1 million settlement in a wrongful death action against the club and its owner, her attorneys report.
Brian Mickelsen and Danny Dalton of Mickelsen Dalton in Charleston report that Kinnie Utley, 22, was at the State Line Bar and Grill in Bennettsville in May when an 18-year-old who had illegally entered the club with a gun fired a shot into the crowded room. The bullet unintentionally struck Utley in the back and killed him.
Utley’s mother, Tinikianni Baldwin, sued the bar and its owner, Deborah Kay Robinson, alleging that the current and previous Marlboro County sheriffs had warned and advised the club that it needed to improve security measures–specifically, guarding building entries and checking for identification and weapons at the door–after previous shooting incidents that had occurred there.
The suit alleged that the club, which has since been shut down, failed in its duty to protect patrons from foreseeable crime. The parties agreed to settle the suit for $1 million, the full limits of the club’s liability insurance, on Oct. 11, shortly after the suit was filed.
“Landowners need to understand that they have a legal duty,” Mickelsen said. “This, to me, comes down to the tragic reality of gun violence in South Carolina and beyond. It’s a case about owners of commercial properties taking reasonable steps to protect their patrons from crimes that happen on their premises.
“Had the Club done what the Sheriff and others asked it to do–to implement and enforce the most basic of security measures–Kinnie Utley would be here today. “
Julie Moose of McAngus Goudelock & Courie in Columbia represented the defendants. She did not respond to a request for comment. The Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office also did not respond to a request for comment.
Follow Renee Sexton on Twitter @BobcatRenee
SETTLEMENT REPORT – WRONGFUL DEATH
Amount: $1 million
Injuries alleged: Death
Case name: Tinikianni Baldwin, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Kinnie Marquan Utley, deceased v. Deborah Kay Robinson, State Line Bar & Grill and John Does 1-5
Court: Marlboro County Circuit Court
Judge: Paul Burch
Case No.: 2019-CP-34-00283
Date of settlement: Oct. 11
Attorneys for plaintiff: Brian Mickelsen and Danny Dalton of Mickelsen Dalton in Charleston
Attorneys for defendants: Julie Moose of McAngus Goudelock & Courie in Columbia