(August 7, 2012)
The family of a teen who was struck and killed by a drunk driver in 2011 has filed a lawsuit against the men’s club saying the company’s policy encourages employees to sell as many alcoholic beverages as possible, putting others in danger when intoxicated patrons leave the club.
The 18-year-old was a popular high school senior, member of the school’s color guard. She was driving her pick-up truck when she was hit from behind by a highly intoxicated man traveling approximately 130 miles per hour without his car’s headlights on, as stated in the lawsuit.
According to a press release, entertainers at the men’s club are required to pay a nightly fee to work at the club. To help pay for the fee, the nightclub has created a system in which its employees accumulate “credits” based on the number of drinks they sell to patrons. Surveillance video from the club shows servers at the club selling beers and shots to Ramirez, who currently is serving a 15 year sentence for intoxication manslaughter, before kicking him out of the club once he was unable to pay for more drinks. The lawsuit states that the defendant was not asked to leave the club due to his extremely intoxicated state, but rather because he was out of money and no longer profitable for the club. The lawsuit further states that the ultimate goal of the club’s employees was to make the club the most possible money through the sale of alcoholic beverages. They were encouraging their employees to violate the law.
Investigators determined that the defendant’s blood alcohol content was 0.295, more than three times the legal limit. Witnesses told investigators the defendant was not using his car’s headlights prior to the crash and evidence from the accident scene indicates he was traveling approximately 130 miles per hour, approximately 17 minutes after being thrown out of the club. The defendant smashed into the victim’s truck, dislodging the bed and crushing the cab. The victim was rushed to the hospital where she died about nine hours later of extensive blunt force injuries and a subdural brain hemorrhage.
Employees of the club who were interviewed by the police all admitted that they knew the defendant was intoxicated when he left and knew how many drinks they had served him. It is on videotape how he was served drink after drink after drink and then kicked out, stumbling out of the bar. The victim’s father stated, “The way I worded the day that the guy went to jail was he got 15 years, we got life. We got a life sentence.”
Of course it was the defendant’s choice to drink and drive, but if the employees at the club had not pushed him out onto the street, knowing he was highly intoxicated or hadn’t sold him so many drinks in the first place, this tragedy may not have happened. The least the club could have done was place the defendant in a cab. Their main concern was their profits.
The victim’s family is seeking damages for her physical and mental pain and suffering, personal injuries and medical and funeral expenses. They also are seeking exemplary damages for the willful and malicious acts of the club and the defendant, as stated in the lawsuit.