Officer's widow sues eatery that served driver

Of­ficer Bri­an Lorenzo's wid­ow has sued TGI Fri­day's and the man ac­cused of driv­ing in­to the of­ficer's mo­tor­cycle.

Linda Lorenzo comes out of a heal­ing ser­vice for her late hus­band, Of­ficer Bri­an Lorenzo, at the Cathed­ral Ba­silica of Saints Peter and Paul. Of­ficer Lorenzo was killed in a mo­tor­cycle ac­ci­dent on Ju­ly 8th. Mem­bers of the Re­li­gious Lead­ers Coun­cil of Great­er Phil­adelphia took turns in say­ing dif­fer­ent pray­ers of peace dur­ing the ser­vice. May­or Nut­ter at­ten­ded and gave a city flag to the Of­ficer’s fam­ily, Fri­day, Au­gust 3, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

The wid­ow of slain High­way Patrol Of­ficer Bri­an Lorenzo has sued the al­leged drunk­en driver who struck and killed her hus­band last month on In­ter­state 95, as well as the Ben­s­alem res­taur­ant that served al­co­hol to the ac­cused mur­der­er on the night of the crash.

In her civil case filed on Thursday in Phil­adelphia’s Com­mon Pleas Court, Linda Lorenzo does not seek spe­cif­ic mon­et­ary dam­ages from TGI Fri­days, its par­ent com­pany or de­fend­ant John D. Leck Jr.

Yet, the mere ex­ist­ence of the civil suit may help Linda Lorenzo’s law­yers un­cov­er more in­form­a­tion about Leck’s activ­it­ies just pri­or to the fatal crash.

“[Now that] we have filed the law­suit we [are] in a po­s­i­tion to serve dis­cov­ery sub­poen­as to all oth­er li­quor es­tab­lish­ments in that area … between TGI Fri­days in Ben­s­alem and where he crashed,” said at­tor­ney James J. Binns, who rep­res­ents Linda Lorenzo along with fel­low at­tor­neys James E. Beas­ley and Scott Ben­nett.

The crash oc­curred at 3:13 a.m. on Ju­ly 8 in the north­bound lanes of I-95 just south of the Cottman Av­en­ue in­ter­change. Ac­cord­ing to Pennsylvania State Po­lice, Leck was driv­ing his Audi sedan south­bound in the north­bound lanes at a high speed when he struck a north­bound po­lice mo­tor­cycle op­er­ated by Bri­an Lorenzo, who was in uni­form and on his way home from work.

Wit­nesses said the mo­tor­cycle burst in­to flames. Lorenzo, a 48-year-old fath­er of three from Somer­ton, died at the scene from un­dis­closed in­jur­ies.

State po­lice al­lege that Leck, 47, of Levit­town, entered the high­way by trav­el­ing up the Cottman Av­en­ue exit ramp.

Linda Lorenzo’s law­suit states that Leck’s blood-al­co­hol con­tent was meas­ured at .218, al­most three times the leg­al lim­it of .08, and that he had con­sumed at least six al­co­hol­ic drinks at TGI Fri­days, 3301 Street Road, earli­er that night.

Leck re­portedly paid his bar tab at 1:16 a.m. and left the res­taur­ant. Au­thor­it­ies have not dis­closed or de­term­ined his where­abouts for the al­most two hours pri­or to the crash.

Binns said that Linda Lorenzo’s at­tor­neys hope to sub­poena re­cords from li­censed li­quor-serving busi­nesses in the area, in­clud­ing re­gister re­ceipts and video­tapes, along with Leck’s cred­it card re­cords.

The at­tor­ney ac­know­ledged that crim­in­al in­vest­ig­at­ors have prob­ably been try­ing to get the same in­form­a­tion.

“They might, but we can’t wait for them. There are two dif­fer­ent tracks,” Binns said, re­fer­ring to the civil and crim­in­al pro­ceed­ings.

The civil suit ar­gues that Leck was in­tox­ic­ated be­fore leav­ing TGI Fri­days be­cause he was “so drunk that he has no re­col­lec­tion of where he went af­ter­wards, un­til he, with a blood al­co­hol level of .218, killed Of­ficer Lorenzo.”

The law­suit did not cite spe­cif­ic state­ments by Leck to au­thor­it­ies. Po­lice have not re­leased pub­licly any state­ments by the de­fend­ant.

Leck drank “at a min­im­um” three 22-ounce Co­ors Lights, two vodka drinks and one 14-ounce Co­ors Light at TGI Fri­days, ac­cord­ing to the law­suit. Au­thor­it­ies have not re­leased those de­tails pub­licly.

In ad­di­tion to Leck and TGI Fri­days, the law­suit names the res­taur­ant’s par­ent com­pany, Carlson Res­taur­ant/TGI Fri­days of Car­roll­ton, Texas, as a de­fend­ant.

In re­sponse to a re­quest for com­ment, Carlson re­leased the fol­low­ing pre­pared state­ment on be­half of TGI Fri­days: “We join the com­munity in the pro­found grief re­gard­ing the death of Of­ficer Bri­an Lorenzo. Our heart­felt thoughts re­main with his fam­ily and col­leagues, and we con­tin­ue to work with state and loc­al law en­force­ment on their on­go­ing in­vest­ig­a­tion.  As this mat­ter is now in lit­ig­a­tion, it is in­ap­pro­pri­ate for us to dis­cuss spe­cif­ics.”

Leck is charged crim­in­ally with murder, hom­icide by vehicle/driv­ing while un­der the in­flu­ence, ag­grav­ated as­sault, hom­icide by vehicle, driv­ing while un­der the in­flu­ence and in­vol­un­tary man­slaughter. He has no pri­or crim­in­al re­cord.

Leck, who is single and was em­ployed at a Tre­vose col­lec­tions agency, was sched­uled to ap­pear in Mu­ni­cip­al Court for the first time on Fri­day at a mo­tions hear­ing, but it was post­poned. He re­mains in­car­cer­ated at the Phil­adelphia De­ten­tion Cen­ter on State Road in lieu of bail pending a Sept. 26 pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing.

Linda Lorenzo was un­avail­able for com­ment, ac­cord­ing to Binns.

“We’re try­ing to get as much fin­an­cial com­pens­a­tion as pos­sible for Mrs. Lorenzo, but noth­ing will bring back Bri­an,” Binns said. “If we could get Bri­an back, it would be worth all the money in the world.” ••

Re­port­er Wil­li­am Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or

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