Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Spring bar to pay $3 million for serving drunk driver who killed 3 in wreck (Spring, TX)

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.

via http://www.yourconroenews.com/news/article/Spring-bar-to-pay-3-million-for-serving-drunk-10610941.php

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Jury awards $18 million verdict following beach bar fight (Jacksonville, FL)

A jury handed down a multi-million dollar verdict Monday afternoon against a popular bar in Neptune Beach.

Joshua Mathews sued the iconic Pete's Bar in 2013 for the traumatic brain injury he sustained during a fight in the parking lot.

The two week trial in Duval County circuit court ended with a jury deciding that Pete’s Bar should be held liable for Mathews over $18 million in damages.

Attorney Michael Pajic said his client wasn’t allowed to testify in court because of his disabilities.

Pajic says Mathews suffers from a brain condition limiting his ability to express himself. Pajic says Mathews was a regular at Pete’s Bar, and was intoxicated on July 22, 2012 when a fight erupted.

“It was at closing time, and there was a verbal altercation right out at the entrance and another patron was inserted into that altercation,” Pajic says. “A brawl started, and Josh tried to break it up and got punched and fell and hit his head on the cement.”

The violent brawl sent Mathews to the hospital and into a coma for two months. He uses the assistance of a cane or walker when moving, and though he understands conversations, he has trouble finding the words to respond.

Pete’s Bar is one of the oldest in Duval County and is recognized as the first to obtain a liquor license after the end of prohibition in 1933.

Each year droves of patrons flock to Pete’s on Thanksgiving day for an event coordinated by the beachfront business.

The 2012 brawl happened outside the bar’s doors, but Mathews attorneys say the business was negligent in the amount of security it provided.

"What this shows is a bar's duty can extend outside its premises,” says Pajic. “Even as patrons are exiting, they have a duty to keep the area around their bar safe."

Defense attorneys representing the bar argued Mathews assumed the risk of injury when he joined the fight. The bar’s answer to the lawsuit identifies seven individuals that were responsible for the altercation.

However, Monday a jury sided with the man who longs to express himself again and who hopes the favorable verdict will lead to better medical treatment and bigger steps toward recovery.

Pete’s Bar’s owners did not respond to requests for a comment on the verdict.

via http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/jury-awards-18-million-verdict-following-beach-bar-fight/345264498