Families of two people killed in a 2012 triple-fatal wrong-way crash received a $3 million settlement with Papa's Ice House in Spring Thursday.
Stephen Kyle Isbell, 47, of The Woodlands, Anis Atkins, 25, of Houston, and Dominique Hobbs, 27, of Grand Prairie, died when Ed Blackwell, 47, crashed into a car while driving north in the southbound lanes of Interstate 45 in July 2012 following a night of heavy drinking at Papa's Ice House in the 300 block of Pruitt Road in Spring, court records show.
Court documents state Blackwell and Stephen Isbell were at Papa's Ice House for close to six hours late on June 30, 2012, and into the early morning hours of July 1, 2012. The lawsuit alleged employees served the two "large quantities" of alcohol when they were "obviously" drunk already.
Isbell's wife Tara Isbell sued Papa's Ice House as well as Spring Social Club Inc., which owns and operates the Texas Alcoholic Beverage License for the restaurant, in February 2012 alleging employees over-served Blackwell the night of the crash. Family members of Hobbs joined the lawsuit a month later.Department of Public Safety troopers initially told The Courier that Blackwell got onto the Interstate 45 southbound lanes near Woodlands Parkway before making a sharp U-turn on the highway and driving north in the southbound lanes. That's when he crashed into a car occupied by Hobbs and Atkins, killing them and Isbell on impact.
According to Texas' Alcoholic Beverage Code, bars are open to lawsuit if they serve someone alcohol who is "obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others," and the drinker goes on to cause damage, personal injury or death while intoxicated. Court documents show TABC investigated the incident and fined Papa's Ice House $21,000 for over-serving an intoxicated person. That was before the families filed the civil suit.
The case was set for trial a few times in the last few months. Attorneys filed the proposed settlement Sept. 15.
The original complaint listed Richard Loughridge, who owns both Papa's Ice House and Papa's On The Lake, as a defendant, but the order signed by 284th state District Court Judge Cara Wood on Thursday explicitly says the families cannot collect any money directly from Loughridge.
Blackwell, whose blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit at the time of the crash, originally was charged with three counts of intoxication manslaughter for the three people's deaths. But a criminal jury ruled him incompetent to stand trial in September 2014 after attorneys showed that the injuries he suffered during the crash caused him to have dementia and other mental ailments. The charges were dismissed months later.
In an eerily similar wrong-way drunk-driving crash on the same stretch of highway days earlier, Nicole Baukus crashed and killed Nicole Adams, 19, of Cornoe, and Travis Ryan Saunders, 18, of Houston. The crash also severely injured David Porras, who sued On The Rox Sports Bar and Grill in the 500 block of Sawdust Road in Spring for over-serving Baukus.
Porras' attorneys reached an agreement with the establishment for a $1 million settlement in April 2013.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants in the Papa's Ice House case were unavailable for comment.