Dram shop suit against Hooters goes to trial

David Yates Nov. 18, 2013, 3:21pm

Jury selection began Monday afternoon in a dram shop lawsuit against Hooters, which alleges the popular eatery over-served an “obviously” intoxicated customer who has been officially charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Melba Braud filed suit against Derek McBride and Texas Wings Inc., doing business as Hooters, on Feb. 19 in Jefferson County District Court.

"Dram shop" laws allow DUI victims or their families to sue alcohol vendors or retailers for monetary damages.

On Nov. 15, Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, ordered the parties to continue a mediation process that started Nov. 12.

However, according to a courthouse official, no settlement was reached on the morning of Nov. 18, inching the case closer to trial.

Braud’s third amended petition says the lawsuit arises out of the death of Amber Roussel on July 30, 2012, as a result of an intoxicated McBride allegedly racing down Interstate 10 with Caleb Harley.

“The Beaumont Hooters … served McBride and Harley when they were obviously … intoxicated and unable to operate a motor vehicle,” the suit states.

“As was predictable and foreseeable, the (two men) in their intoxicated condition failed to operate their vehicles in a reasonable and prudent manner. (They) were racing at a high rate of speed on I-10 … when McBride passed a vehicle on the shoulder and hit another vehicle, lost control and hit the center concrete median, knocking the brush guard off his vehicle.”

The guard flew through the air like “a missile” and smashed the windshield of the vehicle Roussel was riding in as a passenger, killing her, the suit states.

Last November, McBride was indicted on charges of intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault. His trial is set for March, according to local media reports.

The suit accuses him of negligently operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Hooters is accused of breaching its duty by over-serving him.

Plaintiff Ryan Roussel and his children had their claims against McBride, Harley and Hooters consolidated into Braud’s suit.

The plaintiffs are suing for damages under the Wrongful Death Act and seek an award of exemplary damages.

Friendswood attorney Alton Todd represents Braud.

Hooters is represented in part by Dallas attorney Douglas Fletcher of Fletcher, Farley, Shipman & Salinas.

Case No. A193-952

More News