The estate of Brian Beaver is seeking damages against KT’s Hayloft Saloon, arguing that the Lolo bar served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated customer who later struck and killed Beaver with his vehicle.
Paul Ryan, the attorney for Beaver’s estate, filed a lawsuit Thursday in Missoula County District Court, arguing that the Hayloft had a duty to use reasonable care not to serve alcohol to a person who was visibly intoxicated.
The lawsuit contends the Hayloft breached that duty by serving Brian Holm drinks on Nov. 9, 2010, to the point that he was visibly drunk.
Ten minutes after leaving the Hayloft with a “to go cup” containing a mixed whiskey drink, the lawsuit states, Holm crossed the center lane on Brooks Street in Missoula, where he struck and killed Beaver with his vehicle.
“Not only did they serve him alcohol while he was at the bar, they also gave him a go cup when he left,” said Ryan. “They gave him alcohol for the road and 10 minutes later that accident happened. We’re seeking damages allowable by law.“
Beaver was a tourist from Washington state who stopped with two friends in Missoula while on their way to Yellowstone National Park.
The three men were walking to dinner along Brooks Street when Holm’s car careened onto the sidewalk. Tests later showed that Holm was drunk; he also admitted taking a prescription painkiller, sleep aid and antidepressant in the hours leading up to the accident.
The lawsuit seeks damages for personal injury, pain and suffering, medical and burial costs, loss of services and companionship, emotional distress, wrongful death and future economic loss.
It’s also looks to collect monetary compensation for the “love, care, comfort and companionship” Beaver provided his wife and son, “which would have continued had his untimely death not occurred.“
“At the time of his death, Brian Beaver Jr., was only 24 years old and was young and vigorous,” the lawsuit states. “He was employed, was industrious and was hard working.“
Frank Miller, owner of the Hayloft, said surveillance footage from the bar shows that Holm was not visibly intoxicated when he left the bar, as the lawsuit argues.
While the bar did provide a mixed drink in a go cup, Miller said, it was intended for Holm’s wife, and it was supposed to be consumed on the premises.
“The footage shows there was a pitcher of beer being split in two glasses,” Miller said Friday. “The mixed drink was for (Holm’s) wife, and even if he did end up drinking it, it was intended to go out to the smoking shack.”
Miller said surveillance tapes show that his staff did nothing wrong. While the crash was tragic, he said, his bar was not responsible for Beaver’s death.
“I feel we did no wrong at the saloon,” Miller said. “I feel the Hayloft and my help did no wrong at all and the tapes verify that.”
According to documents filed in court, Holm entered the Hayloft at 6 p.m. on Nov. 9, 2010, and ordered a pitcher of beer. Over the next several hours, he drank beer and other alcoholic beverages while ingesting Ambien.
Holm left the Hayloft at 10:30 p.m., driving a 2000 Ford Focus, traveling with his wife toward Missoula.
Minutes later, Brian Beaver began walking along Brooks Street with his friends. He was hit on the sidewalk near the intersection of Brooks and Paxson streets. The impact threw Beaver into the stone wall of a business; he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Holm was convicted in 2011 of vehicular homicide while under the influence. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison, with half of that suspended. He remains free while appealing his conviction to the Montana Supreme Court.
“I think he’s tried to avoid consequence and responsibility for his actions from step one,” Ryan said Friday. “He left behind a young son and a wife. He was out at that bar for four-plus hours.”
Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, firstname.lastname@example.org or @martinkidston.