UnderCover Waitress: Kucik v. Castle: The Plot Thickens

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kucik v. Castle: The Plot Thickens

The story about John Castle breaking his waiter, Paul Kucik's finger has been reported in various online news sources, including ABC News and the Huffington Post. The incident happened back in January, and (a little late to the party) I wrote about it here recently. If you search for information about these allegations, you will find many write-ups about Castle committing assault and battery on Kucik.

As some of you know, I received a comment from a self-reported lawyer representing John Castle. It is less easy to find write-ups of Castle's side of the story, but I did a little more digging thanks to the comment. The plot thickens.

One thing that interested me is that Kucik has not pressed criminal charges against Castle. According to the Palm Beach Police, if there is no victim then there is no crime. However, according to one of my "legal eagle" friends, victims don't press charges; the prosecutor decides when to press charges in criminal matters. Perhaps if the alleged victim were more interested in charges being pressed, the D.A. would be more likely to consider it.

I have yet to find any public comment on the incident by the Club's management or the owner, Daniel Ponton.  

Kucik has sued Castle in civil court.

The allegations in Kucik v. Castle are straightforward:
* Castle's wife asked for check.
* Kucik handed Castle the check.
* Castle became irate, grabbed Kucik's hand and broke Kucik's finger.
* Damages sought exceed $15,000.
* Kucik wants a trial by jury.

Castle's lawyers filed Amended Answer, Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaim.
* Castle admits he was dining at the club with his wife on the date of the incident.
* He admits that a waiter handed him the check.
* He does not "admit" whether that waiter was Paul Kucik.
* Denies everything else.

I need to remind all readers before I delve into this that I am not a lawyer; I write this blog out of personal interest in the underbelly of the restaurant industry. While I began this journey biased toward Kucik, I am interested in the truth.

I write to divulge information and to entertain. I do not give legal advice, and if I get a legal "thingy" wrong you can't sue me for malpractice. That is because I am not a lawyer, just a stupid waitress, who says things like "thingy." Heh.

In brief, these are Castle's Affirmative Defenses:

* Kucik has been convicted of federal felony offenses to commit securities fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud. Castle alleges that Kucik pegged him as a "mark" because Castle is a man of means.

So, Kucik is a convicted con man. If I broke Ted Bundy's finger and he sued me, the fact remains that I broke his finger. The fact that a serial killer accuses me of breaking his finger does not make him a liar.

This is an interesting point of law. As we saw in the comments on the other blog post, the supposed lawyer for Castle made a huge deal about Kucik's tarnished past. If Kucik gets the jury trial he is asking for, the judge has the right to decide if details of Kucik's past are prejudicial enough that they may not be used as evidence. In other words, the jury might not be allowed to know, although they would have to find jurors unfamiliar with the case.

Again, whether I break Ghandi's finger or Ted Bundy's finger, I still broke somebody's finger. If the jury knows all about Ghandi's past and Ted Bundy's past, they might find me guilty of breaking Ghandi's finger but not Ted Bundy's.

To make it more interesting, here is a little dirt on Castle via Forbes.com: 

"The incident hasn’t shocked many who know Castle, a personal friend and frequent Palm Beach host of U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch. Leverage buyout king Castle is known on The Island as an abrasive character who often snaps at the help, which in his case includes half a dozen servants, chauffeurs and yacht captain." 

So, Kucik is a current or former con man, and Castle is an alleged a$$hole. What a combination. Next?

* Castle claims that Kucik has not stated a cause of action for which relief may be granted. This is a common affirmative defense. Translated, it means that even if everything Kucik says is true, the law can't make Castle do anything. This is what Castle is claiming.

* Castle claims Kucik "did not state sufficient facts..." (Police report is below.)

* "As a Fourth Affirmative Defense, JOHN CASTLE responds that Plaintiff is estopped by his own actions and course of conduct from pursuing Plaintiff's complaint..."

If you just said, "WTF?" raise your hand. Yeah, me too. I needed help understanding this one.

The Legal Dictionary defines "estoppel" as:

"A legal principle that bars a party from denying or alleging a certain fact owing to that party's previous conduct, allegation, or denial."

Estoppel is used to prevent injustice caused by inconsistency. Essentially, it means that you can't claim one thing today, then change your mind and claim something different tomorrow. The police report is below and does not present any glaring inconsistencies. Perhaps Castle is trying to claim that Kucik seemed "just fine" after the incident.

* "...Plaintiff's own actions and course of conduct constitute a waiver of his complaint..." 
A waiver is the voluntary and deliberate relinquishment of a known right. Not sure what the logic is here; Castle is claiming that somehow Kucik waived his right to sue Castle. (The Amended Answer does not specify how Kucik supposedly waived his right to sue Castle. )

* Castle claims that either Kucik or somebody else, but not John Castle, is responsible for any harm Kucik suffered. Translation: Kucik broke his own finger.

* Castle claims "unclean hands." I believe this is not a reference to Kucik's criminal past, but rather, has to do with Castle blaming Kucik. See above. Castle is blaming Kucik for everything.

* Castle claims that Kucik has received collateral payments following the alleged injury. I expect (but don't know for a fact) that when Castle claims this, he is referring to Worker's Compensation payments. If I am correct, then Castle thinks Kucik receiving Worker's Compensation payments for an injury suffered at work should reduce anything Castle may owe Kucik.

Worker's Compensation is no-fault insurance, but when a third party causes the injury sustained at work the picture changes. Castle is a third party. The third party is sued outside of Worker's Compensation laws.

* Castle claims that Kucik didn't mitigate his damages. In other words, Kucik went to the emergency room for an x-ray the day after Castle broke Kucik's finger. Had he gone right away, Kucik would have mitigated his damages. Mitigating your damages means making an effort to keep damages to a minimum.

Castle is claiming that Kucik made it worse on himself by putting off his visit to the ER until the next day when Kucik's pain did not subside.

However, Kucik was working as a waiter. If he had insisted on leaving during the shift, he would have lost his job. His job had no benefits, no health care, no sick days. Moneybags and his lawyers can not seem to wrap their heads around what the real world survives every day. They are too far removed from the financial reality that the rest of us must deal with.

Castle is counter-suing Kucik for defamation of character. If Kucik is lying, then Castle should win. Also, lawyers have to do what lawyers have to do. Everybody should have fair representation  in legal matters. It is the lawyer's job to represent the best interests of the client, regardless of whether the client is popular or likable.

On another note, one of the forums in which these allegations are being discussed began with the OP calling Castle a "Kike." Racial slurs are never appropriate, and serve as nothing more than a poor reflection on the person making the racial slur.

Following is the wording of the police report from Eater:

"On January 8, 2011 at 10:11 p.m., I responded to the Palm Beach Police Department in reference to a complaint in the lobby. I met with the complainant, Paul Kucik, w/m, dob: 11-24-1954 of 2413 NW 7th Street, Boynton Beach FL.
Kucik stated that he was a waiter at Club Colette located at 215 Peruvian Avenue and on the night of January 7, 2012 at approximately 9:00 p.m., he was physically assaulted by a club member known to him as John Castle, who is approximately in his mid 70`s age. Kucik stated that Mrs. Castle requested that Kucik bring her their dinner bill. Kucik stated that when he returned to the Castles` dinner table, Mrs. Castle instructed him to give the bill to her husband, John Castle who was seated across the dinner table from her.

Kucik stated that he attempted to hand Mr. Castle the bill and Mr. Castle became irate with him and yelled, "You schmuck, why did you bring the bill to the table?" Kucik stated that he replied, "because your lady asked for it." Kucik stated while he stood on the left side of Mr. Castle, he (Kucik) attempted to hand Mr. Castle an ink pen. Mr. Castle began ranting and grabbed Kucik`s left hand and began squeezing and twisting his fingers. Kucik stated that Mr. Castle had a very tight grip of his left hand and Kucik had to pull his left hand out of Mr. Castle`s grasp. Kucik stated he was not certain which hand Mr. Castle grabbed his left hand with, but he believed Mr. Castle used his right hand.

Kucik stated that he immediately notified his employer of the incident, but no action was taken. Kucik stated he began experiencing pains in his fingers as a result of Mr. Castle`s actions. Kucik stated that on January 8, 2012 at 9:00 a.m., he went to the M.D. Walk-In Clinic located on Lantana Road. Kucik stated an X-Ray of his fingers indicated that his left ring finger was broken.

I did observe that Kucik`s left ring finger and pinkie finger were wrapped in blue medical tape.

Kucik was uncertain if he wanted to file an Affidavit of Prosecution against Mr. Castle at this time and stated that he would contact the police department within a few days after consulting with an attorney.

At this time, no further action has been taken. End of report"


  1. I find it dubious to say the least that the so called lawyer went out of his way to turn up here.

    If he comes back, three words, just on principle, mate: middle finger extended.

  2. I was more than just a tad surprised... I mean, this is a blog, not a professional journal. While I attempt and strive to stay honest and accurate, I'm not being published in the New York Times, lol.


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