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Town Ballroom owner says venue was mistakenly named in South Buffalo Maserati lawsuit

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Posted at 3:00 AM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-12 07:45:49-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — For years, the 7 News I-Team has been breaking details about the deadly South Buffalo crash, involving the driver of a Maserati. Despite the driver being locked up, convicted of serious charges, he's facing a number of civil lawsuits from the estates of the two people killed.

The driver isn't the only person or entity named in those lawsuits.

Town Ballroom was named — in one of the lawsuits — under the ownership group 681 Entertainment. The owner says this is an awful error.

The concert venue is accused of over serving an obviously impaired Antonio Brown, the night he crashed, killing Kristin LaBruno and Anthony Twentyfive III, in South Buffalo back in 2019.

"It's not true because we weren't open," says Town Ballroom owner Artie Kwitchoff. "We're an event space. We open for events. We're not a normal bar that's open three, four, five nights a week."

Not only does Kwitchoff say Town Ballroom wasn't open, he says no one was even inside the building, let alone drinking the night Brown crashed the Maserati he was driving.

Kwitchoff points a log, showing when the alarm was armed and disarmed.

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Town Ballroom says it's impossible Antonio Brown was there, drinking, the night of that deadly South Buffalo crash. The owner points to this log, showing the alarm was set early Saturday morning and not disarmed until Monday. The crash happened early Sunday morning.

According to the log, the alarm was armed early Saturday morning, October 26, 2019. It was not disarmed until Monday, the 28th.

The crash happened early in the morning on Sunday, October 27.

"The lawyers involved need to be responsible and need to get to the bottom of the facts," Kwitchoff says. "Somehow we've been mistakenly implicated in this lawsuit. Somehow, somebody says there's a witness that says everyone was here drinking prior to the accident -- that's not the case."

Retired State Supreme Court Justice Penny Wolfgang says that log is "excellent proof" to show the venue was not open. But both lawyers for each estate were originally going after Town Ballroom, under what's called the Dram Shop Act. It allows lawsuits of establishments that facilitate illegal drinking or the illegal sale of alcohol.

Town Ballroom was dropped from one of those claims. It was issued a discontinuance.

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"The facts must have shown that this particular bar was not responsible, that there was no causal relationship" Wolfgang said. "That they either didn't sell liquor to the person -- or that they sold it if they did -- a small amount."

The attorney, who did not drop Town Ballroom from the case, did not return our repeated calls.

There is cause for some concern, at Town Ballroom, because Kiwtchoff, as the owner, has to defend himself in front of the State Liquor Authority. That's frustrating, especially now, because the venue's liquor license is up this month.

"It's upsetting that, in the eyes of the State Liquor Authority, we're still involved in a vehicular homicide" Kwitchoff said. "We'll continue operating our business as we always have. It's the reason we've been open as long as we have. we run the business properly."

Kwitchoff, on behalf of Town Ballroom and 681 Entertainment, has hired an attorney to get his business off the second lawsuit. It is important to note, this discontinuance was issued without prejudice. That means it could come back in the future if new evidence surfaces.

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