Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Family names Unity Township bar in lawsuit over fatal crash

COOK TOWNSHIP, Pa. —Nearly two years after a crash that ultimately claimed a woman’s life, the family of Janet Zellers has filed a lawsuit in the case.

It was Nov. 4, 2015, when Janet Zellers was involved in a head-on crash with Joshua Hunka along State Route 711 in Cook Township. Hunka had reportedly been driving erratically at the time of the crash and in 2016 pleaded guilty to charges that include aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI.

Zellers died of the injuries she suffered in the crash on June 23, 2016.

Last week, Zellers’ family filed a lawsuit naming the Pleasant Corner Inn and its owner Paul Kobistek, Jr. as defendants.

In the lawsuit the family says, among other things, Hunka was visibly intoxicated while at the bar and nothing was done to keep him from getting behind the wheel.

Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 placed calls to the Pleasant Corner Inn for comment early Tuesday morning but there was no answer.

via http://www.wtae.com/article/family-targets-unity-township-bar-in-lawsuit-over-fatal-crash/13124709

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Ruby Tuesday, local bar over-served cop driving in fatal crash, lawsuit claims

FLORENCE -- The parents of a woman who died last year when an off-duty, intoxicated police officer crashed his car are suing the former officer and bars where he drank that night.

Ariana Williams, 27, of Florence, was killed in a September 2016 crash when her friend, then-Burlington Township police officer Justin Rodriguez, veered off the roadway and struck a pole.

Rodriguez, 26, was driving nearly twice the speed limit at 86 mph with an open can of Coors Light at the time of the crash, authorities said. He was thrown from the vehicle and critically injured, while Williams was pronounced dead at the scene.

He had a blood alcohol level of .17 percent.

Rodriguez pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter in June, and is serving a four-year prison sentence.

The suit, brought by Ariana's parents Ronald and Chavella Williams, was filed in Burlington County Superior Court. It names Rodriguez, as well as Ruby Tuesday in Hamilton and the Brickwall Tavern in Burlington Township.

"Justin Rodriguez's guilty plea of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence in the recent criminal case against him was only the start of the Williams family's pursuit of justice in their beloved daughter's tragic death," Fritz Goldenberg & Bianculli lead partner Brian Fritz said in a statement.

Evidence presented in court revealed Rodriguez ordered three beers, a margarita and a mix drink made with tequila at Ruby Tuesday that evening before moving on to the Brickwall Tavern in Burlington just after 9 p.m. He drank several more beers and shot of Jose Cuervo over the course of several hours there, purchasing a drink as late as 1:40 a.m., just before he and Williams got back into his car.

"Ariana's family said from the outset of this nightmare that they intended to hold accountable every individual and every establishment involved in their young daughter's tragic death," Fitz's statement continued. "We will not cease until we have gotten justice for Ariana."

A request to comment sent to Ruby Tuesday corporate was not immedaitely returned. A call to the Brickwall Tavern Wednesday morning was not answered, and an email seeking comment was not immediately returned.

via http://www.nj.com/burlington/index.ssf/2017/10/family_of_woman_killed_in_dui_crash_suing_driver_r.html

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Family sues Austin bar, accusing them of overserving driver who killed their son

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — The father of a man killed by a drunk driver in 2015 has filed a lawsuit against the bar where the driver was a few hours before the deadly crash.

The lawsuit claims Homer’s Bar and Grill, located along Wells Branch Parkway in north Austin, overserved John McClintock, 33. The lawsuit claims Homer’s Bar was negligent by serving McClintock, who was already intoxicated.

According to the lawsuit, McClintock left the bar just before 2 a.m. on Nov. 11, 2015. McClintock drove northbound in the southbound lanes of Interstate 35 for 11 miles before crashing into motorcyclist Domonick Turner, 25, in Round Rock around 4 a.m. Turner died at the scene.

According to the affidavit, McClintock said he made a “wrong turn,” as he was driving home to San Marcos. McClintock told police that he drank five beers and three shots of whiskey between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. Officers noted a strong smell of alcohol on his breath after the crash and in official documents said that McClintock’s clothes were covered in vomit.

Last month, a jury sentenced McClintock to 12 years in prison for intoxication manslaughter.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission just submitted its investigation findings involving the McClintock case to its legal department, which is expected to make a decision within a few weeks.

“We’re determining first if the business had policies that would’ve prevented any service of alcohol to an intoxicated person, and if they did, did they follow those policies and did they sell alcohol in a way that did contribute to the loss of life,” explains Chris Porter, public information officer for TABC.Domonick Turner was killed in a wrong-way crash on IH-35. (Courtesy: Turner family)

The TABC opened an investigation into Homer’s Bar and Grill after seeing media reports on the crash in 2015. “We rely upon media reports, tips from law enforcement, we rely upon tips from citizens who are concerned about any possible public safety violations,” said Porter.

TABC must investigate every complaint. “We do open and undercover inspections where we can go in to identify if the alleged behavior is happening again,” said Porter. “We can also look at bank records. For example if someone is accused of buying alcohol when they’re intoxicated, we can look at their credit card records.”

Bars must renew their licenses every two years, and there are a lot of factors TABC considers before approving an application.

“If the establishment has had a number of public safety violations in the past, and there’s not a set number but we look at the significance and severity of those accidents,” explains Porter. “If there was a loss of life, if there was some sort of risk to public safety.”

Since getting its liquor license in 2006, Homers Bar and Grill has received three violations from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. In 2008, Homer’s had to go through mandatory education courses and pay a $2,400 fine for selling to a minor. In 2011, the bar received a written warning for failure to report something. In 2014, a $1,200 fine was issued and a suspension for selling to an intoxicated person.

Homers Bar and Grill is in the midst of trying to renew its liquor license. The bar’s license expired on Oct. 4, but the commission says it gives establishments a 30-day grace period to re-apply. Ultimately, the commission can protest a license renewal before a judge. The agency says at any given time, they’re protesting about five or six establishments across the state.

To file a complaint with TABC, you can download the TABC mobile app for Apple or OIS devices, or you can email the agency.

KXAN reached out to the attorney for the Turner family, but she declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Homer’s Bar and Grill sent KXAN this statement:

“We express our deepest sympathies to the Turner family for their loss,” said the owner of Homer’s Bar and Grill. “As to the lawsuit that was recently filed, we will let the legal process play out and have no further comment at this time.”

via https://kxan.com/2017/10/19/family-sues-austin-bar-accusing-them-of-overserving-driver-who-killed-their-son/

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Wife of man killed in Livermore accident sues nightclub, others

AUBURN — The wife of a man who was killed when a car driven by a Farmingdale woman rear-ended another on New Year’s Day in Livermore is suing that driver and the local nightclub where she had been drinking.

Sarah Clark, 30, of Farmingdale and Giovanni Delvecchio had been drinking alcohol for hours at the Sapphire Nightclub and Event Center on Center Street the night of Dec. 31, according to a civil complaint filed in August in Androscoggin County Superior Court.

The nightclub features drinking games such as “beer pong” and advertises “bottle service” and “shot girls,” all designed to “actively encourage its customers to purchase and consume additional amounts of liquor,” according to the lawsuit.

When they were at the nightclub, Clark and Delvecchio “were obviously intoxicated,” according to the suit filed by Kathleen Berry, personal representative of the estate of Shawn R. Berry, who was killed in the crash.

When they left the nightclub, Clark and Delvecchio climbed into his 2013 Ford. Shortly after, the car was traveling northbound on Route 4, or Federal Road, in Livermore, according to the suit.

Snow was falling, covering the roadway and reducing visibility and traction, the suit says.

At roughly 1:20 a.m. on Jan. 1, the driver of Delvecchio’s car ran into the rear of a 2006 Toyota that was parked to the right of the northbound lane, the suit says.

Berry had been a passenger in the Toyota, which was owned by Brady Romano, then-37, of Livermore Falls. When the crash occurred, Berry had been attempting to exit that car.

“As a result of the collision … (Berry) was thrown violently around inside the vehicle causing serious injuries including, but not limited to, fractures of his thoracic spine … multiple fractures to his bilateral ribs and a ruptured aortic arch.” He died from his injuries at the scene “following a period of conscious pain and suffering, during which he was aware of his imminent death,” according to the suit.

The nine-count suit claims negligence on the part of Clark, Delvecchio and Romano. It also claims negligent and reckless service of liquor to Clark and Delvecchio by the nightclub. A claim of conscious pain and suffering is lodged against all defendants.

An attorney for the nightclub responded to the suit last month, filing a motion seeking to dismiss the complaint claiming Kathleen Berry failed to follow requirements for giving written notice to all defendants.

The nightclub replied that it had insufficient information to form an opinion on most of the points cited in Berry’s complaint. The nightclub denied it served Clark “multiple alcoholic beverages, allowing her to become highly intoxicated and unfit to operate a motor vehicle safely.” It also denied the nightclub was negligent in serving Clark that night and that the fatal crash was “a direct and legal result of the intoxication of Clark caused by the negligent service of alcohol” by the nightclub.

Clark was arraigned in July in Androscoggin County Superior Court on related criminal charges of manslaughter, aggravated criminal operating under the influence and driving to endanger, to which she pleaded not guilty.

Convictions for the crimes are punishable by up to 30 years, 10 years and five years in prison, respectively. She is free on personal recognizance.

Romano had pulled over to the side of the road when Shawn Berry had become sick, police said. Clark and a passenger had performed CPR on Berry at the scene, police said.