LAS VEGAS (CN) - The family of a woman who was one of three people who died when a cab exploded after a car chase and shooting on the Las Vegas Strip sued the accused killer, a casino, a car rental agency and others Thursday.
The Feb. 21, 2013 shooting and explosion came after an argument between two people at a private party at the Haze Nightclub in the Aria Resort & Casino. The men took it outside to the Las Vegas Strip and left in different vehicles around 4 a.m., according to the Las Vegas Sun.
Lead plaintiff James Wasmund, widower of the late Sandra Marie Sutton, says the party was "a special event for certain rap artists on a night when Haze was closed," and that "Haze provided, condoned and encouraged the use of illegal drugs" by accused killer Ammar Asim Faruq Harris and others" inside the nightclub.
In his lawsuit in Clark County Court, Wasmund claims that Harris, 28, was arguing with a man called "Filthy Phil" in the casino's valet area when Filthy Phil pulled out a handgun and "showed it to Harris," but "no employees contacted security or police regarding the altercation."
Wasmund claims that "at least two valets employed by Aria saw Filthy Phil retrieve the firearm and show it to Harris" before Filthy Phil and the late Kenneth Cherry Jr. left in a 2008 Maserati Gran Turismo, followed by Harris and three others in a Range Rover.
Harris, who could face the death penalty if convicted of murder, chased the Maserati as it headed north on Las Vegas Boulevard and fired several shots at the Maserati. Prosecutors say he struck Cherry and Filthy Phil, later identified as Freddy Walters, near the Flamingo intersection. Cherry lost control of the sports car, ran a red light and slammed into several vehicles, including the Desert Cab taxi carrying Wasmund's wife, Sandra Sutton-Wasmund.
The cab exploded, killing Sutton-Wasmund, 48, and driver Michael Boldon, 62. Cherry died of his wounds, but Walters survived.
Harris fled and was arrested a week later in Studio City, Calif.
Sutton-Wasmund is survived by her husband and three children, Austin, Sarah and Hunter, all of whom are plaintiffs in the civil suit.
Harris was convicted of rape and robbery in a June 10 incident and describes himself as a "pimp," according to an Oct. 1 Associated Press report.
The AP reported that Harris bribed a prison guard to get cellphones in prison to organize an escape before his trial begins.
Harris faces additional charges of bribing a public officer, according to the AP.
Defendants include Harris, the Aria Resort & Casino, Haze Nightclub, Desert Cab, Multiservice Leasing, Chrysler and the Estate of Kenneth Cherry.
Wasmund accuses Harris, Aria and Haze and Cherry's estate of negligence and all defendants of wrongful death. He accuses Aria and Haze of negligent hiring, training, retention and supervision, and Chrysler, Desert Cab and Multi Service Leasing of strict products liability for design defect, manufacturing defect and failure to warn.
Wasmund claims the Desert taxi, a 2008 Dodge Charger, "was equipped with an inadequate gas tank, which caused the taxi to explode and become engulfed in fire."
The Wasmunds seek special damages for pain, suffering, shock and agony, attorney's fees and costs.
The Wasmunds are represented by Peter Christiansen.
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