Friday, June 29, 2018

2 Houston bars at center of lawsuit in connection to fatal drunk driving crash in 2016

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) --Two well-known Houston bars are facing a legal battle. The bars are accused of serving a motorcyclist alcohol who later caused a fatal accident in July 2016.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday by the parents of 25-year-old Lindsey Morris, Capitol Bar and Nightclub are accused of serving Jeffrey Michael Mason while he was intoxicated.

Mason was driving his motorcycle when he crashed into a cement barricade on the 610 overpass. Morris, his girlfriend who was riding on the back of the motorcycle, was killed in the accident.

"We have evidence that indicates that both of those bars served an obvious intoxicated person," said family lawyer, Annie McAdams.

The district attorney's office said Mason's blood alcohol content level was .162 at the time of the crash.

While he is being held accountable in the criminal system, McAdams says the two businesses also share responsibility.

"If they're going to make money on the sale of liquor to the public, then we expect you to protect the public from the sale of liquor, that simple," she said.

Although the fatal crash happened nearly two years ago, Morris' family says they hope the lawsuit reminds bars of their responsibility.

"They lost their daughter as a result of somebody being served too much alcohol," McAdams added.

Both establishments said they were not ready to release a statement.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Mom sues officer and bar after drunk cop caused crash that killed her son

The mother of a 29-year-old motorcyclist who died following a Halloween night crash is suing the former-Elizabeth police officer who caused the accident and the bar where the officer had a drink.

Maria Lizarazo of Elizabeth claims in the civil suit that under the state's Wrongful Death Act the off-duty officer, Romulo Meneses-Alvarez, and the owners of the Central Park bar in Roselle are responsible for funeral expenses and other damages caused by her son's death.

Lizarazo also says the defendants are responsible for all medical costs for Lozano, his total estimated future earnings from the time of his death to the end of his natural life expectancy, loss of retirement, social security income and damages related to the loss of enjoyment of life.

Staff at the bar, owned by Amikle Restaurant Inc., knew the officer was drunk, yet continued to serve him drinks, the suit claims. By doing so, the bar and its employees "grossly regarded the duties of Tavern Keepers for the safety of the decedent and the general public," according to the suit.

Meneses-Alvarez admitted he was under the influence of alcohol when his Jeep Wrangler turned left in front of Lozano's motorcycle on Elmora Avenue in Elizabeth, causing the collision.

He pleaded guilty to third-degree strict liability vehicular homicide, fourth-degree tampering with physical evidence, and driving while intoxicated in the death of Lozano.

Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Keith Abrams, who prosecuted the case due to an undisclosed conflict of interest with the Union County Prosecutor's Office, has recommend that Meneses-Alvarez serve 364 days in county jail, the maximum sentence for a third-degree felony.

The ex-officer is scheduled to be sentenced July 13.

Many details of the Halloween crash and the investigation remain unclear, but according to police documents and indictments Meneses-Alvarez left the scene after the crash and hindered the investigation by preventing police from checking out his vehicle, a Jeep Wrangler.

Joshua McMahon, an attorney for the Lozano's family, said a witness and body camera footage revealed that another Elizabeth police officer told Meneses-Alvarez to leave. NJ Advance Media was unable to confirm this because an open public records request for the video footage was denied.

Lizarazo's civil complaint was filed May 11, but according to McMahon, the defendants have yet to answer to the complaint in court officially.

A manager on duty at Central Park declined to comment about the lawsuit Wednesday morning.

Central Park was one of two bars where former Linden cop Pedro Abad was drinking in 2015 before he drove the wrong way on a Staten Island highway, leading to a head-on crash that killed two people and critically injured a third. Abad was sentenced last year to 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison after he was found guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide.

The surviving victim of the crash and the families of the two men who died received a $2,085,000 legal settlement from Central Park, a Staten Island strip club, Abad's insurer and an uninsured motorist policy. The plaintiffs had alleged the bars served alcohol to Abad when he was visibly drunk.

On Tuesday, former Newark officer Joseph Macchia was convicted of manslaughter after he got into a fight at a Union Township bar, drew his service weapon and shot a man to death two years ago.


Friday, June 8, 2018

Bar Sued For Role In Mass Shooting At Plano Home

PLANO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A lawsuit and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission report released Thursday accuses a Plano bar for its involvement in last September’s deadly mass shooting at a Plano home during a Dallas Cowboys game watch party.

The lawsuit and TABC report accuses The Local Public House in Plano of over-serving Spencer Hight before the shooting.

According to the report, bartenders noticed Hight, the shooter, was highly intoxicated. But he was still served drinks anyway.

Spencer Hight (Instagram)

Bartenders also noticed he was acting “weird” and had a knife and a gun.

But the bar’s owner told the bartenders not to call police.

Later that evening, Hight went to the Plano home of his estranged wife Meredith Hight, and shot and killed her and seven other people.

Officers who responded, shot and killed Hight.

The TABC report accuses the bar of continuing to serve an already drunk customer.

According to the report, Hight ordered two gin and tonic at 2:39 p.m. at The Local Public House on September 10 and then left. Hight returned at 6:38 p.m. and ordered two Miller Lite beers and a shot of lemon vodka.

The Local Public House (CBS11)

In the bar surveillance video, Hight appeared to be highly intoxicated, the report said. “Hight was unsteady on his feet and staggered around the bar, running into tables and walking sideways.”

The bartender, Lindsey Glass noticed Hight had a large, fixed blade knife on the bar and was spinning it on the bar.

It is against the law to have a knife or a gun at a bar.

The report points out that’s the second violation, aside from over-serving a customer.

Glass then texted Timothy Banks, another bartender and friend of Hight and told him Hight had a big knife on the bar and was spinning it and “Hight said he had dirty work to do.”

The report went on to say, “Banks told Glass he was going to come to the bar. Glass then texted Banks that Hight was drunk and being weird. Hight and Glass then went to the patio area. Hight produced a pistol from his front pocket and put it on the table. Galss then observed Banks arrive and went to tell him about the gun. Banks made contact with Hight and according to his statement to Plano Police, he believed something was wrong with Hight and called the bar owners.”

According to Banks interview with Plano Police, the director of the corporation Mackymo’s Bar & Grill Inc, Jerry Owen, “advised Banks not to call the police.”

Hight then left and went to Meredith Hight’s home where he shot and killed eight people.

The lawsuit from the victims’ families names both bartender Lindsey Glass and the bar as defendants.

The lawsuit also holds them responsible for over-serving and for having weapons in the bar.

They are asking for a million dollar in damages.

Here is the TABC report:

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Shooting stemming from Uptown bar fight leads to civil lawsuit

The Bar Louie in Uptown may be closed, but its legal issues continue. The Fortney Hospitality Group Inc., which owned the franchise location, is being sued in federal court by a man who was shot in the back after leaving the bar, claiming the operators should have had better security and tighter rules.

Plaintiff D'Andre Alexander was at the bar with others in June 2017 when Eddie Burch approached him and at some point kissed him on the cheek, according to the complaint. Alexander, a former Marine, walked away to cool off and later returned to his group. Burch again came up to Alexander and the two eventually started wrestling on the ground. Alexander left the bar, where Burch shot Alexander in the back. He is now paralyzed from the bullet and Burch pleaded guilty to the shooting in January, according to a Star Tribune story.

According to the complaint, "Burch’s handgun would have been readily visible to any competent security personnel, had any been present and/or on location at the bar or on the premises to view it, but there was not." Burch had also consumed at least eight alcoholic beverages before entering Bar Louie and was served more, the complaint said.

"Bar Louie Uptown has a customary mode of operation of [over-serving] alcoholic beverages to its patrons, even when they are obviously intoxicated," the complaint reads. "Bar Louie Uptown’s customary mode of operation and practice of [over-serving] alcoholic beverages to its customers has resulted in the creation of a dangerous or unsafe condition within the drinking establishment."

Prior to the 2017 incident, Bar Louie had other issues. Robert Hopper, who's representing Alexander, sued on behalf of a another patron who was hit in the head with a beer glass at the bar. That case was settled for an undisclosed sum, according to Hopper. The city of Minneapolis also cited the bar in 2014 for not having adequate security, according to city records from the Alexander lawsuit.

In May, Bar Louie closed. Representatives for La Crosse, Wis.-based Fortney Hospitality did not respond to inquiries about the lawsuit.