Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in Louisiana Strip Club Slaying

June 7, 2012

A second wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against a now-defunct strip club in Prairieville, La., and its alleged operators over the fatal beating of a patron last year.

The Advocate reports The Suthern Kumfort’s Lounge lawsuit, brought by Ashley Davenport-Tanner, widow of slain club patron 28-year-old Willis Harrison Tanner IV of St. Amant, seeks a jury trial and damages.

An Ascension Parish jury convicted Zachary Pusch, 21, of Prairieville, of second-degree murder March 14 in the slaying of Tanner, 28, of St. Amant.

Tanner was fatally beaten May 4, 2011, in the club parking lot along Airline Highway.

Pusch was sentenced to life in prison on April 9.

The lawsuit does not name Pusch as a defendant, but targets alleged club officials Steve Duke, 57, and Charles Puckett, 62, both of Prairieville.

The suit claims Duke is the club operator and Puckett is owner of the club property and de facto owner of the business.

The suit accuses Duke and Puckett of employing Pusch and asserts they, along with the club and their insurer, First Financial Insurance Co., are liable in Tanner’s death.

Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputies have accused Duke and Puckett of conspiring to hide Puckett’s true ownership of the business because he is a convicted sex offender.

Both men were arrested and later indicted last year on counts of filing false public records in the alleged scheme.

Rebecca Gaspard, mother of Tanner’s son, Aiden Tanner, also filed suit last year on behalf of her son against Duke, Puckett and Suthern Kumfort’s.

Her suit accuses Puckett, Duke and the club of being liable for Tanner’s death due to the employment of Pusch.

That case is still pending.

In an interview last year, Duke and club attorney Joe Long described Pusch as an independent contractor and not a club employee.

Long has also disputed Puckett’s involvement in the club business.

Long said Thursday he could not comment on the second lawsuit because he had not yet been served.

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