The family of a missing Largo lawyer has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the man accused of killing the attorney in March and the owners of the building where investigators believe the crime occurred.
On Tuesday, Stephen Barnes, the lawyer representing Lois Cozzi, the mother of Steven Cozzi, filed a 13-page civil complaint in Pinellas County against Tomasz Kosowski, 44, and MH Belcher Property LLC, seeking damages in the death of Steven Cozzi, 41.
Cozzi was representing some defendants in a medical billing lawsuit in which Kosowski, a plastic surgeon, was the plaintiff.
Barnes said that while Lois Cozzi is a representative of the estate for Steven Cozzi, any monetary benefit would go to Steven Cozzi’s husband, Michael Montgomery.
“The point of a civil suit is to compensate Michael for what he’s lost,” Barnes said. “With the exception of a child, I think the loss of a spouse is one of the most monumental losses that somebody can suffer.”
Steven Cozzi vanished from his office at Blanchard Law, 1501 S Belcher Road, on March 21. On March 26, Kosowski was arrested in connection with the attorney’s death. Investigators say evidence indicates Kosowski put Steven Cozzi’s body in a dumpster that was emptied into a Collier County landfill, court records show. They searched the landfill for several days but did not find it. Investigators have yet to find Cozzi’s body.
In April, a grand jury indicted Kosowski on a first-degree murder charge, and state prosecutors filed notice that they would seek the death penalty.
The lawsuit cites a contentious meeting in January, months before the March 21 incident, when Kosowski followed Steven Cozzi into the men’s bathroom and called him a “scumbag,” according to court testimony. Kosowski had visited the Blanchard Law offices multiple times while representing himself and familiarized himself with the office’s layout, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit details the alleged crime, which court documents also have outlined in the prosecution’s case against Kosowski. Court documents previously stated Steven Cozzi’s blood was found at his office on various surfaces of the men’s bathroom and in a Toyota Tundra investigators traced from the law office to Kosowski’s Tarpon Springs home.
Police located surveillance video from Steven Cozzi’s office, showing a man struggling to get a cart onto the bed of the Toyota Tundra. The same Tundra was driven to Kosowski’s home, where investigators found blood in the truck and inside the garage, according to court documents.
Police said Kosowski bought the vehicle in October 2022, but never registered it or recorded the title.
The lawsuit also alleges MH Belcher Property LLC, the owner of the building where authorities believe Steven Cozzi was slain, did not provide a reasonably safe premises, including warning Cozzi of any criminal activity in the building.
A week before Steven Cozzi went missing, an employee with the Tampa Bay Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Care Center, a tenant in the building housing Blanchard Law, contacted police to report a man she found hiding in a utility closet, “the door of which had an open hole where the deadbolt was previously installed,” the complaint states. The utility closet is in the shared space of the building.
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The man wore a surgical mask and said he was investigating a power outage. The employee watched the man leave in a Toyota Tundra. Previous court documents detailing the incident said Kosowski’s fingerprints were found inside the utility closet door, and the Tundra’s description matched Kosowski’s vehicle.
“Employees, agents, officers of directors of MH Belcher Property, LLC,” were informed of the incident before Steven Cozzi went missing, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit argues MH Belcher Property was negligent in failing to warn Steven Cozzi of the incident and by not installing security measures for the building.
Phone calls to attorneys listed for Kosowski were not returned Thursday.
A phone call to a number listed for Todd Helphrey, who is listed as a person in charge of MH Belcher Properties on Sunbiz.com, was not returned Thursday.
The lawsuit is seeking a jury trial and damages over $50,000, according to the complaint.
“We’re anxious to get this case on the docket and set for trial next year in 2024 so that I can bring some closure to the family,” Barnes said.