Woman who started fight outside bar responsible for victim’s medical bills

A Chicago woman who got kicked out of a bar and instigated a confrontation with a bouncer must pay for the medical bills the man sustained as a result of being attacked by her friends, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

Racquel Postiglione, her boyfriend, Christopher Shafer, and his brother, Michael Shafer, went to the Alley Cat bar in Broad Ripple. The bartender, Matthew Marcuccilli, refused to serve them because they were clearly intoxicated. They were loud and getting into confrontations with other customers, so he asked them to leave three times. He eventually got the attention of Joe Kelly, who worked across the street from the bar, to help getting the group out of the bar.

Kelly stood outside the bar’s entrance for a few minutes. At some point, Postiglione came out from behind a trash bin, got in his face and grabbed his beard, trying to rip it out. He grabbed her hair, but did not pull, and Postiglione’s companions came up and punched Kelly. He fell to the ground as Postiglione “latched onto” him, resulting in a broken leg. The two men later stomped and kicked him, leading to a broken ankle. The three laughed at Kelly and told him he was going to jail.

But they were all charged with Level 5 felony battery resulting in serious bodily injury, citing the broken bone in Kelly’s left leg. He accrued more than $33,000 in medical bills from the attack.

Marion Superior Judge Mark Stoner said before entering his verdict that out of all the people who had testified, he had believed Postiglione the least. Stoner found that although she was “engaged in mutual combat” with Kelly, she was not the person who inflicted the damage to Kelly’s leg. He convicted her of the lesser-included offense of Class A misdemeanor battery. The other two men were found not guilty because they were “defending the person with the mouth,” Stoner said.

Because the Violent Crime Compensation Fund had paid $15,000 toward Kelly’s medical bills, Stoner ordered Postiglione to pay the balance of $18,451.33 in restitution to Kelly, in addition to 100 hours of community service.

She appealed, arguing she shouldn’t have to pay restitution because she did not directly cause Kelly’s injuries. Judge Rudolph Pyle pointed out that Kelly broke his leg as he fell to the ground with her latched onto him. In addition, the restitution statute and case law do not require the victim’s injury or loss be directly or “solely” caused by the defendant; they must be “a result of” the defendant’s crime.

Citing the Sept. 6 decision by the Indiana Supreme Court, Justine Archer v. State of Indiana, 49S04-1705-CR-288, the Court of Appeals affirmed the restitution order. Postiglione started the incident and her codefendants’ actions were not a separate, intervening action which might have removed her responsibility for restitution, Pyle wrote in Racquel Postiglione v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1607-CR-1662.

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