The parents of a Temple University student who was strangled by a former Temple student in his apartment two years ago have filed a lawsuit against the bar where the two met that night and against her convicted killer.
Ed and Jacqueline Burleigh, parents of Jenna Burleigh, filed the lawsuit against Pub Webb, a bar at 1527 Cecil B. Moore Ave., and Joshua Hupperterz, 31, who is serving a sentence of life in prison after a jury convicted him of first-degree murder in Burleigh’s death.
Attorney Robert Mongeluzzi announced the lawsuit at a news conference with Burleigh’s family Wednesday at his Center City office.
Pub Webb “failed to comply with Pennsylvania law, overserved Joshua Hupperterz, which caused his alcohol-fueled rage to boil over and to kill poor Jenna,” Mongeluzzi said.
The lawsuit, filed last month in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, contends that employees at Pub Webb continued to serve alcohol to Burleigh and Hupperterz even though both were visibly intoxicated, in violation of the Pennsylvania Dram Shop Act. Under the act, bars can be held liable for serving patrons who are visibly intoxicated.
Jacqueline Burleigh, seated at a conference table with photos of Jenna behind her, said: “We really want to protect our children, and our children aren’t being protected right now as these bars continue to serve them and not be mindful.”
Jenna Burleigh, 22, lived with her parents in Harleysville, Montgomery County, and had just started her first week of classes as a transfer student at Temple when on the night of Aug. 30, 2017, she met up with friends in North Philadelphia and went to Pub Webb. As the night went on, her friends left, and Burleigh, who was supposed to stay at one of her friends’ apartments, remained.
Surveillance video showed that Hupperterz approached Burleigh at 1:38 a.m. Aug. 31. Shortly after the 2 a.m. closing time, they left together and walked to his apartment on 16th Street.
Around 4 a.m., the two began arguing and had a violent fight in which Hupperterz, then 29, beat and strangled Burleigh.
The lawsuit alleges that “Hupperterz was fueled by the excessive amounts of alcohol” served at Pub Webb and that “Burleigh’s ability to protect herself and to escape was significantly reduced due to the excessive amounts of alcohol” she was served.
Pub Webb’s owners could not be reached for comment. Joseph Silverstein, who identified his Center City firm as “personal counsel to Pub Webb,” wrote in an email Wednesday that Pub Webb would refrain from commenting “out of respect for the Burleigh family.”
Cherry Hill lawyers Michael Fox and Suzanne Mintzer, who are representing Pub Webb in the lawsuit, filed preliminary objections in court Monday, asking for it to be dismissed. A voicemail message left Wednesday for Fox was not immediately returned.
The wrongful-death suit seeks more than $50,000.
After Burleigh’s death, her family set up a nonprofit foundation in her memory, Jenna’s Blessing Bags Foundation, which provides the homeless with backpacks containing toiletries, clothing, blankets, and water. “Her biggest passion was serving the homeless population,” Ed Burleigh said at the news conference.
“I miss her,” said Janelle Burleigh, Jenna’s sister, executive director of the foundation.
Hupperterz is being held at the State Correctional Institution Huntingdon, in central Pennsylvania. No attorney is listed for him on the civil docket.
Meanwhile, Hupperterz has filed an appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court on his criminal convictions of first-degree murder and possession of an instrument of crime.
Attorney Michael Diamondstein, who represents Hupperterz in his appeal, said Wednesday: “Mr. Hupperterz maintains his innocence and believes the trial court made a number of errors that helped facilitate his conviction.”
By: Julie Shaw, The Philadelphia Inquirer