Food News

Lemoni Cafe Car Crash Victims Sue, One Was Pregnant With Twins

This past October 4, ten people were hurt when a Toyota Camry careened onto the sidewalk and plowed through Lemoni Café's unlicensed outdoor seating area on NE Second Avenuein Buena Vista. According to a lawsuit filed November 17, three of the victims are suing the restaurant, as well as 3G Investment Group Inc., which owns the property where Lemoni operates, and Belony Alterma, the driver, for three counts of negligence.

Based on the legal documents, one of the plaintiffs, Erika Vila, was pregnant with twins at the time of the crash. The incident occurred while Vila was having brunch with the two other plaintiffs, Virmari Pettis and Maria Sosa. Though the nature of their injuries isn't stated in the complaint, it indicates Vila was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital for treatment, while Pettis was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital. Both were later discharged and received care from their own physicians.

See also: Lemoni Cafe Crash: After Ten Injured, Time to outlaw Street Seating Until the Street is Fixed

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

In the complaint, some of victims' allegations toward Lemoni Café and 3G Investmount Group Inc. are that they "placed a sidewalk café in an area with insufficient width to accommodate the safety of its customers" and "failed to properly obtain a permit to operate a sidewalk café."

Meanwhile, the legal papers show the 71-year-old driver is being sued for his negligent actions such as "driving inattentively" and "plowing into tables and café guests."

According to the lawsuit, the three plaintiffs are seeking financial compensation for the physical, mental, and emotional damages they suffered due to the accident. The damages include medical treatment, lost wages, disfigurement, and mental anguish.

The plaintiffs' lawyer, Howard Kraft Pita of Pita & Del Prado, said he would like to wait until next week to discuss the case. Maria Pelati, the owner of Lemoni Café, could not be reached for comment.

In an earlier report from Local 10 News, the City of Miami's director of public works, Ed Santamaria, said there are numerous requirements for obtaining a permit to offer outdoor seating, and one of them is having a ten-food-wide sidewalk. "In this case, that condition does not exist at that location," he said, "so they would not have been granted a permit."

"This is a home for everybody, and this is what happened outside," Pelati told Local 10. "It is like it happened to me, like one of the members of my family."

Follow Valeria Nekhim on Twitter and Instagram.

Follow Short Order on Facebook, Twitter @Short_Order, and Instagram @ShortOrder.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Valeria Nekhim was born in the Ukraine and raised in Montreal. She has lived in Manhattan and Miami. Her favorite part of food writing is learning the stories of chefs and restaurateurs.