Lisi v. Scarpetta Philadelphia

$3 Million

Date of Verdict: 

June 26.

Court and Case No.: 

C.P. Phila. No. 161101776.


Sean Kennedy.

Type of Action: 

Personal injury.


Rotator cuff, neck and shoulder injuries.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Dion Rassias, The Beasley Firm, Philadelphia.

Defense Counsel:  

David J. Khawam, Haddon Township, New Jersey.


Waitresses are used to dealing with bad customers. Few, however, end up having to sue one, and fewer still end up with a $3 million jury award after being injured by a diner who couldn’t keep his hands to himself.

But that’s exactly how it turned out for Kristin Lisi, a server at the Scarpetta Italian restaurant in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. She filed a lawsuit after an October 2016 incident in which a wealthy patron, Gregory Englesbe, drunkenly grabbed her by the throat and pulled her in for an unwanted kiss.

According to Lisi’s court papers, the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Englesbe said, “You’ve been walking by me all night, and I want a kiss” before taking hold of her.

Her court papers added that “as defendant released Ms. Lisi from his grasp, John Doe 2,” Englesbe’s unnamed dining companion, “then stated ‘now it’s my turn,’ leaned in toward plaintiff, grabbed her arm and attempted to kiss her.”

“Incredibly, immediately before the defendant grabbed the plaintiff by the throat, he was in the hallway with John Doe 2, who was actually unzipping his pants in the restaurant hallway when he was smacked by defendant Englesbe, who was heartily laughing, in a ‘put it away’ gesture,” the court papers continued.

Lisi’s court papers said the entire incident was caught on the restaurant’s surveillance video, a copy of which was submitted into evidence. Lisi reported the incident to management and the police were called, though Englesbe was not criminally charged. Lisi claimed she suffered injuries to her rotator cuff, neck and shoulders as a result of the incident.

According to Lisi’s attorney, Dion Rassias of The Beasley Firm in Philadelphia, Englesbe did not present himself as a sympathetic figure to the jury, who took just under four hours to render the $3 million verdict, which included $2.4 million in punitive damages, after two days of trial before Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Sean Kennedy.

“He discussed his Rolls-Royces, his Maserati, his homes across the Eastern seaboard of the United States,” Rassias said, adding that Englesbe was “particularly fond of his residence at Mar-a-Lago, where he recently held a very lavish 50th birthday party for himself.”

Englesbe’s attorney, South Jersey-based solo attorney David J. Khawam, declined to comment.

Englesbe’s court papers said he did not dispute the kiss or the activity caught on the surveillance video. He did, however, contest the extent of Lisi’s injuries.

“Defendant Gregory Englesbe does not deny he tried to kiss plaintiff,” Englesbe’s court papers said. “He does not dispute that any injury caused by this advance is his fault. However, defendant Gregory Englesbe [sic] position is that no or very little injury occurred.”

“The plaintiff’s injuries are either non-existent, exaggerated, and or pre-existing,” Englesbe’s court papers continued. “She has already collected about $150,000 in workman’s comp in benefits.”

— P.J. D’Annunzio, of the Law Weekly