Judge seals settlement in multi-million dollar suit against Hooters over patron’s fatal DUI wreck

David Yates Dec. 16, 2013, 2:35pm

A Jefferson County judge has temporarily sealed settlement information related to a dram shop suit against Hooters which sought millions in damages over the death of 32-year old Amber Roussel.

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

Roussel’s mother, Melba Braud, filed suit against Derek McBride, who has officially been charged with vehicular manslaughter, and Texas Wings Inc., doing business as Hooters, on Feb. 19 in Jefferson County District Court.

The dram shop lawsuit, which alleges Hooters over-served an “obviously” intoxicated McBride, went to trial Nov. 18.

Three days later, Hooters settled with Braud and Roussel’s adopted father, Ryan Roussel, who sued individually and on behalf of his minor children. His claim was consolidated with Braud’s.

Court records show that on Dec. 5, Ryan Roussel and Hooters filed an agreed motion to seal court records, seeking to seal the terms of the settlement in order to protect the interests of the minor children.

That same day, Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, temporarily sealed the records until further notice.

During the trial, Braud’s attorney, Alton Todd of Friendswood, began his opening remarks by showing jurors a 250-pound brush guard, not unlike the one that flew through Roussel’s windshield and killed her on July 30, 2012, after McBride crashed while drag racing down Interstate 10 with Caleb Harley.

“It was the last thing she saw,” Todd said, concluding that he would ask jurors to award Braud $32 million, $1 million for every year of Roussel’s life.

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

“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.

In addition to attorney Kent Adams, Hooters is also represented in part by Dallas attorney Douglas Fletcher of Fletcher, Farley, Shipman & Salinas.

Case No. A193-952

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