Verdict included $25 million in punitive damages
San Jose, Calif.- December 19, 2016
On December 15, 2016, after nearly seven years of litigation, the jury deciding a civil case filed by the surviving daughter of murdered restauranteur, Mark Achilli, awarded her over $45.1 million in damages. The award included over $20 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages. The five defendants in the case were found liable for wrongful death after being convicted of crimes related to a shocking murder-for hire-conspiracy masterminded by Esequiel “Paul” Garcia, who purchased the popular Los Gatos establishments Mountain Charley’s and 180 Restaurant and Lounge just months before Mr. Achilli’s murder.
In a criminal trial that preceded the civil case, testimony for the prosecution revealed Esequiel “Paul” Garcia orchestrated and funded the murder plot. Garcia, a Bellarmine Prep graduate, paid Daniel Chaidez, an employee of his at Mountain Charley’s, to arrange Mr. Achilli’s murder. Daniel Chaidez contacted his cousin, Miguel Chaidez, to assist in the murder plot. Miguel Chaidez found an associate, Lucio Estrada, to serve as the hit man and paid him with money Mr. Garcia gave him to kill Mr. Achilli. Robert Jacome drove Mr. Estrada from Southern California to Mr. Achilli’s residence.
Just before noon on March 14th, 2008, Mr. Estrada confronted Mr. Achilli only steps from his townhouse at the Rancho de Los Gatos complex and shot him multiple times, killing him on site. The total payment divided between the perpetrators was $9,500. Mr. Garcia’s motive to orchestrate the murder stemmed from his anger over a romantic interest choosing to date Mr. Achilli instead of him. After the criminal trial several of the defendants, including Mr. Garcia, sought to have their convictions reversed in various appellate courts. All of those appeals proved unsuccessful.
“The jury sent a clear message that in this community, we value human life and the relationship between a loving father and daughter. From the beginning this case was about doing everything possible to hold the defendants accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Nothing can bring Mark back to Alex, but I hope this verdict provides some closure in the ongoing healing process.” said Ram Fletcher, the Achilli family’s attorney.
Mark Achilli, the former owner of popular Los Gatos establishments, Mountain Charley’s and the 180 Restaurant & Lounge, and longtime bar tender at Carry Nations, was 53 at the time of his death. He is survived by his daughter, Alexandra, as well as Liza and David Cohen, two stepchildren whom he helped raise from an early age. Mr. Achilli loved sports and was an avid Chicago Cubs fan. All inquiries regarding this case should be directed to Ms. Achilli’s attorney, Ram Fletcher, of Bohn & Fletcher, LLP (408-556-9780)