Family of late restaurateur Jay Luther sues MNPD, cooler company

Monday, June 17, 2013 at 3:42pm

Surviving family members of Jay Luther, the local restaurateur who died after he became locked in a walk-in cooler at the since-closed Germantown Cafe East, filed a negligence lawsuit in Davidson County Circuit Court on June 13.

The suit claims that the building’s security providers, ADS Security and Signature Security Service, Southeast Cooler Corp, Continental Carbonic Products, and the Metro Nashville Police Department were negligent in events leading up to Luther’s death.

The incident stemmed from a power outage at the Fifth and Main mixed-use building where Germantown Cafe East was located. The lawsuit claims that Continental Carbonic Products recommended that the restaurant use 500 pounds of dry ice in the cooler to prevent the food from spoiling.

According to the suit, neither a material safety data sheet nor a handling guide warning of the dangers of dry ice was provided to the restaurant.

When the power was restored to the building on June 17, 2012, Luther went to check on the cooler. After he entered, the door slammed shut, locking him inside. The latch release didn’t work, according to both the lawsuit and police investigation of the incident.

Luther pressed a panic button inside the cooler and ADS alerted MNPD. According to MNPD, a security officer at the complex said that the electrical problems must have switched the alarm.

The lawsuit claims that MNPD and Signature Security acted negligently in failing to check the cooler.

The suit, filed by Luther’s mother Norma Luther and his sisters Debbie Ruf and Kim Bartel, asks for $10 million in damages from Continental Carbonic Products for supplying a “defective or unreasonably dangerous” product and not providing notice of the dangers.

The lawsuit requests punitive, exemplary and actual damages from the other defendants. 

13 Comments on this post:

By: Jughead on 6/17/13 at 2:11

Uh--maybe just call it a tragic accident and move on.

By: 4gold on 6/17/13 at 3:56

Who was neglegiant in fixing the cooler door. The ones I am familiar with would not lock from inside. Just had a bumper knob that pushed it open. Sue the disigner of the cooler. Certainly tragic.

Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!

By: CrimesDown on 6/17/13 at 10:10

There is no doubt who is responsible, it would be the owner of the business that neglected to repair the door. Oh, wait a minute, that would be the man that died.

By: Badbob on 6/18/13 at 5:59

2 safety systems failed and they sue the dry ice provider?

As the owner of the business, he must not have provided the safety briefing about putting yourself in an enclosed space. You know, the briefing that would instruct employees to never enter an enclosed space without a backup safety person outside.

OSHA, who needs it? Just more useless regulations...

By: Jughead on 6/18/13 at 7:12

I heard the dude did the SAME THING two weeks prior, but was rescued by employees.

Darwin's revenge?

By: Jailman on 6/18/13 at 7:34

Sounds more like someone who didn't have enough life insurance.

By: rickmuz on 6/18/13 at 7:45

Yep... lets blame everyone except the idiot that failed third grade chemistry by putting frozen carbon dioxide (dry ice) in an enclosed NON VENTILATED space then re-entered said space where he was overcome by the COMPLETE loss of O2.

By: 742180 on 6/18/13 at 7:54

And the hell of it is this case will have to be 'tried' ! And the trial lawyers said Amen!!!

There ought to be a worthless, insane, stupid, greed driven lawsuit court to toss case's like this.

By: Left-of-Local on 6/18/13 at 9:00



There's a lot to this, and maybe it shouldn't be a suit, but still.

By: Jughead on 6/18/13 at 9:49


By: mowkittymowmow on 6/18/13 at 7:33

This is when I just don't feel sorry for the family anymore... we lost something, now pay us! everybody owes us because of our own irresponsibility

By: C.A.Jones on 6/19/13 at 10:01

It's possibly the finniest death we've read in a while. Now it gets funnier with the family suing everybody they can think of! I wish they would have named ol Luther himself in the suit.

God voted this guy out of the gene pool. Sounds like the rest of his family might need to take themselves out too.

By: DeniseWelch on 8/1/13 at 11:05

The death of Jay Luther triggered the incident that the cafe is using extensive food preservation process and they had not permit on it. I hope next time they should have a paper discovery of a documentary to prove that they are allowed to do such food processing and that they can avoid such lawsuit.