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Texas bar sued by family of cyclist killed by driver who had been drinking there blames victim for his death

Gerilyn Weberlein alleged to have been clearly drunk as bar staff continued to serve her before fatal crash

The owners of a bar in Texas where a motorist had been drinking before crashing into a group of cyclists, killing one and injuring another, are seeking to defend a civil action against them by saying that the victims were to blame.

23-year-old Marco Pena Beltran was killed and fellow cyclist Christian Tovar injured when driver Gerilyn Weberlein is alleged to have crashed into the group they were riding in on 4 June last year, reports the South East Texas Record.

It is alleged that Weberlein was “severely intoxicated” at the time of the fatal crash, which happened on 69th Street in Galveston at 10.10pm.

Her blood alcohol level was found to be above the legal limit and she was subsequently charged with second-degree felony intoxication manslaughter and third-degree felony intoxication assault.

Separately, police charged two bartenders at the Island Pier Club with class-A misdemeanour selling an alcoholic beverage to an intoxicated person after examining video footage showing them continuing to serve her alcoholic drinks despite her apparently being drunk.

Beltran’s family and Tovar have brought a civil action against the bar’s owners, BOI Entertainment LLC, alleging that Weberlein was being served alcohol there while drunk.

However, in its response filed with the court last month, the company, which is seeking to have the driver joined to the action, rejected their claim and said that the cyclists were to blame.

It claims that “Neither Beltran nor Tovar was riding their bike in a safe manner, especially at night, and that neither bike had appropriate lighting, reflection devices and Plaintiffs were not riding in a single file as required by law and in the exercise of ordinary care.”

Both the civil action and the criminal cases against Weberlein and the two bartenders are still ongoing.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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8 comments

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brooksby | 4 years ago
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Quote:

“Neither Beltran nor Tovar was riding their bike in a safe manner, especially at night, and that neither bike had appropriate lighting, reflection devices and Plaintiffs were not riding in a single file as required by law and in the exercise of ordinary care.”

Whatever the local laws regarding single file or lighting, it seems a bit extreme to basically say that the cyclists deserved the death penalty for it.  Mind you, it is Texas...

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oceandweller replied to brooksby | 4 years ago
1 like
brooksby wrote:

Whatever the local laws regarding single file or lighting, it seems a bit extreme to basically say that the cyclists deserved the death penalty for it.  Mind you, it is Texas...

Actually, nowhere near that subtle, just legal shenanigans. Under US law (it might be the same here, I don't know), counter or consequent suits have to be settled before the original suit can be heard (I once had a girlfriend in Houston who was a legal secretary in a practice specialising in defending medical malpractice suits, & she explained the ins & outs - long story). This means the family suing the bar first have to show the accident victims didn't contribute to the accident, which is gonna be tough & will probably take a long time. So it's simply a way of kicking the suit against the bar's owners into the long grass.

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jh27 | 4 years ago
1 like

To be fair, I can't see how the bar is to blame.  I guess the driver has no money and they are suing the bar in the hope that, as they have something to lose, they might settle.  If I were a judge I'd be tempted find against the bar - either the driver is wholly to blame for driving whilst drunk or (as the bar has stated) someone else shares the blame, and if someone else shares the blame, it makes most sense that the bar is that someone.

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jamac replied to jh27 | 4 years ago
2 likes
jh27 wrote:

To be fair, I can't see how the bar is to blame.  I guess the driver has no money and they are suing the bar in the hope that, as they have something to lose, they might settle.  If I were a judge I'd be tempted find against the bar - either the driver is wholly to blame for driving whilst drunk or (as the bar has stated) someone else shares the blame, and if someone else shares the blame, it makes most sense that the bar is that someone.

In the USA, Bar tenders aren't liable if they server people to much to drink. Basically if someone gets plastared and you were serving them, you better put them in a cab. It is illegal in most states to server a drink to anyone who appears drunk.

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madcarew replied to jh27 | 4 years ago
2 likes
jh27 wrote:

To be fair, I can't see how the bar is to blame.  I guess the driver has no money and they are suing the bar in the hope that, as they have something to lose, they might settle.  If I were a judge I'd be tempted find against the bar - either the driver is wholly to blame for driving whilst drunk or (as the bar has stated) someone else shares the blame, and if someone else shares the blame, it makes most sense that the bar is that someone.

In most civilised countries (and the states) it is illegal to continue to serve a drunk person.

If the bar staff knew she was driving (or likely to), and knew she was drunk , then they have a moral responsibility, if not a legal one (they've breached terms of their licence and their duty of care by serving a drunk) and so have culpability in resulting actions. Obviously this is harder to prove in a large, well patronised bar, but the establishment in the photo above doesn't look like it necessarly belongs in that category.

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brooksby replied to madcarew | 4 years ago
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madcarew wrote:

... but the establishment in the photo above doesn't look like it necessarly belongs in that category.

Is it me, or does it look like Moe's Tavern? 

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dst replied to jh27 | 4 years ago
3 likes
jh27 wrote:

To be fair, I can't see how the bar is to blame.  I guess the driver has no money and they are suing the bar in the hope that, as they have something to lose, they might settle.  If I were a judge I'd be tempted find against the bar - either the driver is wholly to blame for driving whilst drunk or (as the bar has stated) someone else shares the blame, and if someone else shares the blame, it makes most sense that the bar is that someone.

The driver isn't suing the bar, the family of the deceased cyclist and the cyclist that was injured are.

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Russell Orgazoid | 4 years ago
5 likes

Abominable in the extreme.

 

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