Family of woman killed in auto accident involving alcohol sues

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 2:08pm

Family members of a 21-year-old woman killed in a traffic accident last fall are suing the other driver involved and the restaurant they claim served him alcohol prior to the wreck.

John Howard and Michael Morris, the father and brother, respectively, of Jessica Howard, filed a wrongful death suit Monday in Davidson County Circuit Court against Dustin Coker, Ryan Coker and Sam’s All American Sports Grill in Hendersonville following the Oct. 6, 2010, deaths of Jessica Howard and Kevin McManamon.

The wrongful death and negligence suit claims Dustin Coker had a blood-alcohol content that was twice the legal limit when the Ford pickup truck he was driving slammed into the Chrysler Sebring driven by McManamon, 26, around 1 a.m. Oct. 6 at the intersection of Alta Loma Road and North Gallatin Pike.

Following the wreck, police said McManamon, of Hendersonville, was driving on a suspended license that night and was turning left from Alta Loma onto Gallatin when the truck ran into his driver’s side door, killing him and Jessica Howard, who was a passenger in the Sebring.

The suit seeks a judgment against the defendants to include compensation for property damages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and unspecified punitive damages.

Dustin Coker, according to the suit, drank alcohol at Sam’s All American Sports Grill on Indian Lake Boulevard just before the wreck. Ryan Coker is named in the suit as the owner of the Ford truck.

Nashville-based attorney Adam Dread, who represents Sam’s, said his clients had not yet been served with the suit and had no prior knowledge of the incident.

Contact information for the Cokers could not be found and it was unclear if they had yet to retain legal counsel.

After the accident, Metro police charged Dustin Coker, who was 21 at the time, with driving under the influence. Prosecutors later dropped the charge after Coker was indicted on two criminal counts of vehicular homicide.

Attorneys David L. King and Dana Schmidt are representing John Howard and Morris.

11 Comments on this post:

By: PromosFriend on 3/16/11 at 5:02

Another homicide caused by someone too stupid to know his limit, enabled by a profit driven enterprise coverging with a driver who shouldn't have been behind the wheel of a vehicle either.

By: dargent7 on 3/17/11 at 6:28

You know you're in deep horse do-do when the attorney suing you is named, "Dread".
This story is rather confusing.
Why "drop" the DUI? Sam's is on the hook, and will pay millions. The 21 year old has nothing to give.
Two vehicular homicides will probably get him 20 years, but he'll get out in 12.
What a waste of three lives.

By: girliegirl on 3/17/11 at 7:57

Dargent, Dread, as in ...former Metro Councilman Adam Dread. The guy's super smart, savvy, and the bar will probably walk away w/o paying much at all. Dread's a good lawyer......really good! LOL He always told us he wanted to be known as "Judge Dread" some day.

By: HighlyAnnoyed on 3/17/11 at 8:12

This accident sounds like it was McManamon's fault.

By: dargent7 on 3/17/11 at 8:25

Well, I'm a bartender and the hardest decision to make (other than serving Republicans) is when to cut someone OFF. This kid was 21, so he had to show signs of being drunk, if his BAC was 0.16.
The bar will pay, dearly.

By: global_citizen on 3/17/11 at 8:52

Dargent, I'd start counting the ways you're wrong, but I'm afraid I'd run out of fingers and toes.

Dread is the defendant's attorney, so he's not suing anyone. Sam's likely won't be held responsible. There have been cases like this numerous times before and legal precedent is not consistent, but typically the courts put the majority of the culpability on the drunk driver, not the establishment serving the alcohol.

The biggest problem with trying to hold a bar responsible is trying to prove they knew he was driving. Did a waiter or manager ask him to leave and then escort him behind the wheel of his car? I don't think so. That's the only way they'd end up paying "millions". If Sam's ends up paying anything, it will be a token amount to rid them of the nuisance.

By: BigT37205 on 3/17/11 at 9:55

@ dargent7 Please let us know where you work so we can relieve you of the burden of serving Republicans.

By: girliegirl on 3/17/11 at 10:11


By: jvh2b on 3/17/11 at 11:44

Actually the biggest hurdle is proving the majority of negligence was on Coker.

Based on the description in the paper, the accident was McManamon's fault for failure to yield. The fact that Corker was drunk doesn't seem to play a part here, unless his level of intoxication caused him to let the accident happen, instead of McManamon pulling out in front of him....

The McManamon's attorney should know better.

If this IS indeed the case, I hope the only thing they are awarded is Defense Cost.

By: delltechkid on 3/17/11 at 2:01

It doesn't sound like they deserve anything. Turning left and getting hit in the side would be failure to yield, unless you were at a light with an arrow. This accident sounds like it's the driver's fault.

I don't think the bar should have to pay anything because it is not the bar's fault when someone drinks too much and drives. They are not nannies.

By: seymoure2 on 3/24/11 at 3:56

Dustin Coker 21 driving while intoxicated measuring .16 and speeding at the rate of 92mph determined by the investigation on a suspended liscense for DUI, DOES by all means make HIM the responsible party.
IT IS an establishments responsibility to NOT serve intoxicated patrons and IS against the law to serve Coker's 20yr old buddy with him, that were both asked to leave the establishment. Instead of reporting to the police a drunken punk was speeding out of the parking lot not to even mention, with non opened and empty beer containers in the truck.
NO ONE stopping at a red blinking light looking both ways would see an automobile provene to being doing 92miles an hour and then pull out in front.
Cokers family obviously posted earlier on this accident stating untrue facts about McManamon's BAC and his use of drugs. Neither of which are true. DUSTIN Coker is 100% responsible for this deadly accident and should pay dearly. Besides, where is his brother hiding who owns the truck Dustin was driving and allowed this?
according to police, HE has not been found nor served.
This is all in the papers and news, you can read for yourself and I suggest before commenting on such a serious incident, you take the time to educate yourself.
AND take into consideration the young lady was a christian nursing student in college and her boyfriend had returned from protecting our lives in the Middle east.