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.