The first wrongful death lawsuit stemming from the slayings of four young men earlier this year on a Central Bucks County farm was filed Wednesday morning by Philadelphia-based law firm Ross Feller Casey.
According to the firm and court records, the lawsuit was filed against Cosmo DiNardo, 20, of Bensalem, and his cousin 20-year-old Sean Kratz, of Philadelphia, the two men charged with the murder of Sturgis and three other men; and DiNardo’s parents, Sandra and Antonio DiNardo, both of Bensalem.
The lawsuit was filed by attorney Robert Ross on behalf of the family of Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg, Montgomery County, whose body was buried in a pit with other victims on the DiNardo’s 68-acre farm. The plaintiffs in the suit are Mark Potash and Aimee King, Sturgis’ parents.
“With this lawsuit, the heartbroken parents of Mark Sturgis intend to hold accountable everyone responsible for the horrific death of their son, not just those who pulled the trigger. This includes those who negligently and carelessly permitted either of the accused to gain access to firearms and equipment used in these heinous crimes,” said Ross, a founding partner of Ross Feller Casey.
Among other things, the lawsuit alleges that Cosmo DiNardo used a Smith and Wesson .357 gun owned and registered to his mother to kill Sturgis and that DiNardo’s parents failed to secure the handgun even though they knew he had a history of mental illness.
The lawsuit, filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, also alleges that DiNardo’s parents created a dangerous situation to exist on their family farm by allowing their son access to the property and also to use equipment on it.
The lawsuit alleges 29 ways in which Sandra and Antonio DiNardo’s negligence created a dangerous environment both on their property in Solebury and around their son. Negligently entrusting her handgun to her son, failing to take the necessary steps to safeguard the handgun and ammunition and negligently allowing the backhoe used in the crimes to be possessed by Cosmo DiNardo are listed aspects of negligence.
The plaintiffs claim full measure of damages recoverable under the wrongful death act, funeral and burial expenses and more. The plaintiffs claim Sturgis’ loss of earnings potential, positive value of potential services he would have provided in the future, and the anguish suffered by the plaintiffs under the Survival Act.
The lawsuit lists compensation demanded of each of the defendants and those named in the suit at $50,000. This is a placeholder number often put forth in such cases. A jury will likely decide the final settlement payment, according to a spokesperson for the law firm.
Cosmo DiNardo is charged with the murders of all four victims – Sturgis; Dean Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletown; Thomas Meo, 21, of Plumstead Township; and Jimi Patrick, 19, of Newtown Township. Kratz is only charged with the killings of Sturgis, Meo and Finocchiaro.
Sturgis only met with Cosmo DiNardo because he went with his friend Meo to purchase marijuana. The two men met Cosmo DiNardo at another family property at 2827 Aquetong Road, a short distance from the farm near Peddler’s Village. The men drive with Cosmo DiNardo to the farm. Once at the sprawling property, Cosmo DiNardo shot Meo once he turned his back with the .357 handgun. Sturgis tried to run but ended up being struck by gunfire. Cosmo DiNardo ran out of ammunition and ended up running Meo over with a backhoe to ensure he was deceased, according to court papers.
Meo, Sturgis and Finocchiaro were burried near a large field on the property and were in a smoker. Their bodies showed signed that someone tried to set them on fire.
Philly.com reported George Bochetto, who represents Cosmo DiNardo’s parents, said the family was also victimized by their son’s actions. He said they have been “crushed and devastated by what occurred.”
An attorney for Cosmo DiNardo told LevittownNow.com he did not yet have time to review the lawsuit.
“While any aggrieved party has the absolute right to file a civil lawsuit in this matter, it’s important to remember that there was absolutely no reason to file this suit before the conclusion of the criminal proceedings,” Kratz’s attorney, Craig Penglase told Philly.com.
Cosmo DiNardo, who has a plea deal set up, and Sean Kratz remain behind bars awaiting trial. They were both in court last week and pleaded not guilty during a formal arraignment.
The lawsuit is the first to be filed in relation to the killings, but likely not the last.
NewtownPANow.com Publisher Tom Sofield contributed to this report.