SAN DIEGO – The mother of a professional surfer who was fatally beaten in La Jolla last year filed a lawsuit Tuesday against five young men involved in the fight, their parents, and the bar where some members of the group had been drinking.
Cynthia Kauanui accuses the men of wrongful death for beating or assisting in the beating of 24-year-old Emery Kauanui on May 24, 2007.
In her suit, Kauanui contends that the young men’s parents are also at fault because they had a “duty” to control, discipline and supervise their children. She claims the parents of all but one of the men knew about their sons’ violent behavior as minors, which included getting drunk and starting fights, but failed to stop it.
“It was a way of life for them,” said Craig McClellan, an attorney representing Kauanui. “At some point, there’s an obligation for a parent to take charge.”
Kauanui is seeking unspecified general and punitive damages.
The men named in the lawsuit are Seth Cravens, 22; Eric House, 21; Orlando Osuna, 23; Matthew Yanke, 22; and Henri “Hank” Hendricks, 22. They were all graduates of La Jolla High School and part of a group called the “Bird Rock Bandits.” They were arrested last year and charged with murder.
Last month, all but one of the defendants pleaded guilty to lesser felonies, leaving Cravens to be tried on charges of murder, assault and battery.
According to testimony presented in court, the men and Emery Kauanui were at the La Jolla Brew House on May 23, 2007. About 1 a.m. May 24, Kauanui spilled beer on House, and the two got into an argument.
Later, House and the others talked about retaliating and drove to the Draper Avenue home Kauanui shared with his mother.
After they arrived, Kauanui and House fought outside, and House lost a tooth in the scuffle. Cravens then stepped in and punched Kauanui, causing him to fall backward and strike his head on the pavement.
Kauanui died at a hospital four days later.
Also named in the lawsuit, which was filed in San Diego Superior Court, is Barkandbrew Inc., which does business as the La Jolla Brew House, and Claudette Mannixx, who is named as owner. The suit contends that employees at the bar sold alcohol to House and Yanke, both of whom were under 21 at the time and “obviously intoxicated.”
“The Brew House has a reputation for serving minors,” McClellan said. “It’s somewhat of a hangout for La Jolla High School kids. They don’t check IDs.”
Calls to Mannixx and the Brew House were not immediately returned Tuesday, nor were calls from parents of many of the defendants.
Karen Cravens, mother of Seth Cravens, said she knew about the lawsuit but declined to comment.