| Crime |

Club Space Sued Over Carlos Bertonatti's Vehicular Homicide Case

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

​​On January 16, an aspiring musician named Carlos Bertonatti spent hours inside downtown megaclub Club Space until hopping into his silver 2007 Volkswagon and speeding off into the early morning sunlight. A few minutes later, police say, the handsome 28-year-old slammed into a cyclist near Key Biscayne and then roared off, leaving 44-year-old Christophe LeCanne to die on the pavement.

Bertonatti is languishing in jail today, awaiting an August criminal trial on charges of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and resisting arrest -- but the singer-songwriter might not be the only one to pay for his crimes.

LeCanne's widow, Sandra, argues in a new lawsuit that since Bertonatti allegedly spent hours drinking at Club Space before the accident, the club should also be held accountable for her husband's death.

Her suit could test a Florida law that seeks to make bars liable for damages caused by their alcoholic patrons - but it won't be an easy case to prove.

"It's a dicey proposition," says Robert Reiff, a Coral Gables lawyer who has written numerous books on DUI law. "Can you prove that everyone in that club knew who he was and that he shouldn't have been drinking so much?"

That's exactly what LeCanne's laywers hope to show in court. They cite a Florida statute known as a "Dram Shop Act," which says that anyone who "knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of ... alcohol" can be held liable for "injury or damage" they later cause.

Bertonatti's alcoholism was "well known to many of the staff employed by Club Space," the suit claims, and yet on the night of the accident, the club allegedly made no effort to slow his drinking.

LeCanne wants unspecified damages from the club, Bertonatti, and Bertonatti's mother, Carmen.

Neither Louis Diaz, Club Space's representative, nor the club's attorneys returned emails and numerous phone messages from New Times about the case.

Reiff says he isn't aware of any cases in which the Florida law has succeeded in winning money from a bar. "But bars have decided its not worth the publicity and just settled," he says.

As we reported on Friday, Club Space is scheduled to close indefinitely after Labor Day.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.