Rather than let a jury judge the case, Fannett Entertainment, doing business as Gold Club, has opted to settle a dram shop suit against the company.
In August 2011, Ashley Hollyfield, a mother of two and former Gold Club employee, was killed while driving home intoxicated after leaving the exotic dancing establishment.
As previously reported, on Sept. 30, 2011, her parents, Duane and Susan Willis, filed suit against Fannett Entertainment in Jefferson County District Court. Hollyfield’s minor children are also listed as plaintiffs in the suit.
The case was set to go to trial Monday. However, a court house official told the Southeast Texas Record the case settled.
Court records show that on Oct. 10, Gold Club filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it is “undisputed that the proximate cause of Hollyfield’s accident was the fact that she was driving the wrong way on Interstate 10 while intoxicated.”
“Hollyfield’s intoxication and wrong direction driving are negligence per se,” the motion states. “Defendant asks the court to rule as a matter of law that Hollyfield was contributorily negligence…”
Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court, denied the motion for summary judgment on Oct. 31, court records show.
According to the lawsuit, Gold Club allegedly encourages its employees to drink while working to increase its profits. On the night of Aug. 2, Hollyfield was drinking alcohol while in the course and scope of her employment as a waitress.
“Gold Club … continued to sell alcoholic beverages to decedent even after she had become visibly intoxicated and incapacitated,” the suit states.
Later that night, a Gold Club employee walked Hollyfield to her vehicle and allowed her to drive home.
“While driving home … decedent suffered fatal injuries upon colliding head-on with a tractor-trailer,” the suit states, adding that tests revealed her blood alcohol content to be nearly 2.5 times the legal limit.
The suit further alleges Gold Club negligently served Hollyfield alcoholic beverages and allowed her drive, even though it was clear she was a danger to herself and others.
“Gold Club profits handsomely as a result of its policy to financially incentivize employees to consume alcohol on the job,” the suit states. “It cannot then turn a blind eye when one of those employees get into their vehicle and drive home intoxicated.”
The plaintiffs were seeking all wrongful death damages allowable under law. Terms of the settlement are confidential.
Beaumont attorney Brian Mazzola represents the plaintiffs.
Houston attorney Keith Slade of Tucker, Taunton, Snyder & Slade represents the defendant.
Case No. D191-031