Emily Bowman from Woodstock was seriously injured in a hit and run accident in 2013. Apart from spending months at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, she is still undergoing treatment and therapy. Her parents, Dale and Debbie Bowman have now filed a lawsuit in Athens-Clarke County Superior Court against the owners of an Athens bar Barcode, its CEO and others including Ryan Masters, the co-owner and bar manager, named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Parents believe the bar is supposed to physically prevent someone from driving
Emily’s parents alleged that the bar was partially responsible for the accident and are seeking punitive damages that they prefer is decided by a jury trial. The Bowman family alleges that William Heaton, the accused who pleaded guilty of wounding Emily, was intoxicated when he left the bar, Barcode, at 166 East Clayton Street in Athens.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants were aware that Heaton was intoxicated and likely to get behind the wheel after leaving the bar. Despite him being a danger they failed to take steps to prevent him from driving and protecting the public. So what is the bar supposed to do, lock the customer down and physically take their keys from them?
Bar fails to keep tabs on every customer and baby sit every one of them
According to police reports, Heaton lost control of his Mazda pickup truck early morning on Feb. 16th, 2013 and struck Bowman who was taking a walk along the sidewalk of Oak Street with friend. She sustained brain injuries that left her paralyzed, for which she now requires permanent care. The Bowmans claim in the lawsuit that it wasn’t the first time that Heaton visited Barcode while the owners and employees were aware Heaton consumed alcohol to a point of inebriation.
On one occasion he was assaulted by one of the employees of the bar after he became aggressive. The Bowmans claim that despite their knowledge none of the defendants took any measures to limit the amount of alcohol served to Heaton. They also allege that Heaton was served around 10 drinks on the night of the accident. So what? Perhaps the bar thought he had another ride home and this is not the bar’s business anyhow according to anyone who has ever ran a busy bar before.
Sentence reduced following plea bargain
Following the tragic accident, Heaton was arrested and charged on several counts. This included driving under the influence, hit and run, and causing serious injury by vehicle. He was also charged with reckless driving and open container, and failure to maintain lane. In June 2013, he was indicted on 13 counts by an Athens-Clarke County grand jury.
Heaton and his parents should pay
Heaton pleaded guilty in December 2014 after initially denying all charges and was awarded a 10-year prison term. According to Atlanta GA DUI attorneys, the sentencing was expected especially after the accused pleaded guilty to seven charges in exchange for the other charges being dropped. Prosecutors suggest that Heaton was likely to have had more than 12 drinks that night. Following the accident, he took shelter at a friend’s apartment before his parents picked him up.
School superintendent with three DUI convictions behind bars for late court appearance
In other DUI related news, Ron Bryant, a former Taft City School District superintendent, was arrested and is being held without bail after he failed to attend court in Lamont for a DUI arraignment. As reported by KGET, a Bakersfield TV station, 43 year old Bryant turned up two hours late. He also failed to complete a work release program for previous DUI convictions.
According to Kern County Jail records he was arraigned for felony drunk driving. Following three misdemeanor DUI convictions, Bryant resigned from the district at the end of January 2014.
Visit John L. Corn Law Offices for information on drinking and driving laws in Texas.