Relatives file suit against 2 Kentucky bars in Northville family's death
The relatives of a Michigan family of five killed on Interstate 75 in Kentucky by a wrong-way driver whose blood alcohol level was four times the legal limit filed a lawsuit Tuesday against two bars that allegedly over-served the driver.
The wrongful-death lawsuit was filed in Fayette Circuit Court in Lexington, Kentucky, on Tuesday against Horseshoes Kentucky Grill & Saloon in Lexington, Roosters Wings in Georgetown and the estate of the driver, Joey Lee Bailey, who died in the crash in January.
The complaint alleges that the bars continued to serve Bailey drinks, despite obvious signs of his intoxication.
Bailey, 41, had a blood alcohol level of 0.306 and was found to be at fault in the crash that occurred Jan. 6, according to Fayette County coroner Gary Ginn.
According to the lawsuit, Bailey was served at least two 22-ounce beers and three double White Russians at Roosters, the lawsuit said, citing the Lexington police report.
He then drove to Horseshoes, where he was served at least one beer and four double White Russians. After leaving Horseshoes, he drove southbound in the northbound lanes of I-75 for about six miles before the crash that killed the Abbas family.
The Abbas family was returning home to Northville from a Florida vacation when their SUV was hit head-on in Lexington about 2:30 a.m., police said.
The crash killed the father, Issam, 42; the mother, Rima, 38; and their children, Ali, 14, Isabelle, 13, and Giselle, 7.
Following the crash, Lexington Alcoholic Beverage Control officials cited Horseshoes with a show-cause order.
Greg Bubalo, an attorney representing the Abbas family, said this is the second time fatalities have been alleged to have resulted from over-serving alcohol by Horseshoes.
"For the surviving family members, as well as for their many friends left behind, the nightmare and grief caused by that crash will never go away,” said Bubalo. “By filing the lawsuit, the family hopes to hold those responsible accountable and ensure that this type of tragedy does not occur to another family."
The family had traveled to Florida after they postponed their vacation for Rima's grandmother's funeral on Christmas Eve, which caused them to come back Sunday rather than Saturday night, the family said.
The family's funeral was attended by thousands as they were laid to rest beside one another at the Islamic Memorial Gardens on Ann Arbor Trail in Westland.
Relatives representing the estates are seeking an unstated amount from the Bailey estate for compensatory and punitive damages for the loss of their family members. A portion of any proceeds from the lawsuit will be placed into a charitable trust — The Abbas Family Red Wagon Fund — that has been established by surviving relatives to honor the lives of the Abbases.
The fund focuses on breaking down barriers through advocacy, access to health care, education and other initiatives that focus on marginalized voices and promote empowerment, equity and healing, according to the website.
Relatives deferred comment to their lawyers.
Andy Mayoras, one of the family's attorneys, said the family felt the only way to take action was to file a wrongful-death lawsuit.
"For them, it's not about the money, but to do everything in their legal power to do anything they can to prevent this from happening to other families," Mayoras told The Detroit News. "They don't have the legal ability to stop bars from engaging in this kind of behavior. Greg's firm is committed to doing anything it can to curb drunk driving in the state of Kentucky."