Mother sues Westport bar for wrongful death of her son - KCTV5 News

Mother sues Westport bar for wrongful death of her son

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A metro woman is not only suing the man police say was drunk and caused a crash that killed her son, but she's also suing the bar where he drank.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed in Jackson County claims the bar played a factor in the death of 68-year-old Donald Gipe, who was killed Sept. 18, 2013, on the corner of Interstate 35 and 7th Street.

Police say Robert J. Johnson ran a red light and slammed into Gipe's car. Johnson is charged with DUI in Wyandotte County.

Gipe's mother is not only suing Johnson for wrongful death, but Buzzard Beach where he was supposedly drinking at that night.

According to the lawsuit, Johnson's blood alcohol level was exceeding .08. It claims Buzzard Beach, located in the Westport area, is negligent for over serving Johnson when he was visibly intoxicated.

A few bartenders KCTV5 talked to say some people will find ways to keep drinking even if they've been cut off.

"If I saw someone swaying or slurring their words, I wouldn't serve them, but then again it's on the person. If they want to keep drinking, they may keep ordering, they may have their friends order for them, you never know what they are doing behind the scenes," Gracie Holbrook said.

"I think the person is responsible for how much alcohol they consume," Eric Holbrook said.

Others say it is a bar's responsibility not to overserve, but they can only do so much.

"It's definitely the individual's responsibility to make sure the person is in an OK state to drive. Certainly the bar can help with that and not overserve somebody, but I think, at the end of the day, the person that puts the key in the ignition is the responsible one," Paul Laemmli said.

Workers at Buzzard Beach wouldn't comment and the bar's owner wouldn't return KCTV5's calls.

The lawsuit is asking for at least $25,000 in damages from both defendants.

Calls to Gipe's attorneys were not returned.

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