Victim's family settles in San Francisco nightclub shooting

Cafe Cocomo was placed on an Entertainment Commission watch list last year. (Examiner file photo)Cafe Cocomo was placed on an Entertainment Commission watch list last year. (Examiner file photo)

Cafe Cocomo was placed on an Entertainment Commission watch list last year. (Examiner file photo)Cafe Cocomo was placed on an Entertainment Commission watch list last year. (Examiner file photo)

The family of a 21-year-old bystander killed by a stray bullet outside a Dogpatch nightclub has settled a lawsuit against the venue and its security company for $1.75 million, lawyers for both sides said Monday.

Justin Mendoza was shot outside Cafe Cocomo, at 650 Indiana St., in March 2005 during a confrontation between other patrons.

Four other bystanders were wounded when Gerry Phongboupha fired a gun into a crowd of revelers loitering outside the club after a hip-hop show. Phongboupha was later convicted of murder.

“Nightclub owners cannot just sweep the usual trash down the street,” said David Anderson, a lawyer for Mendoza’s parents, Eduardo and Denise. “It’s a pretty loud, clear message that if this continues, it’s going to cost them money.”

The total payout includes a $1 million settlement with Cafe Cocomo, a $500,000 settlement with K-Dubb Security and a $250,000 settlement with the club’s landlord.

Russell Robinson, a lawyer for Cafe Cocomo, said the club would not have to pay anything because the Mendozas will pursue the $1 million from its insurance company. He said the club settled because it could not afford a trial.

“Justin Mendoza was shot down the street; it’s hard to make a case against the club,” Robinson said. “But Mr. Anderson’s a very aggressive attorney.”

Trouble spot

The Entertainment Commission placed Cafe Cocomo on a watch list last year due to violence.

  • April 2011: Five people are cut while trying to break up a fight
  • October 2010: A 23-year-old man is shot inside the venue
  • September 2009: Two people are grazed by bullets outside

Source: Examiner reports

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