Bar admits over-serving driver who killed Mich. family in wrong-way crash
A Kentucky bar admitted Wednesday to over-serving a man whose blood alcohol level was four times the legal limit for driving and killed a Michigan family of five in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 75, officials say.
A statement Wednesday from Lexington police says the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Office finalized an agreement with Horseshoes Kentucky Grill & Saloon that calls for the establishment to plead guilty to serving an intoxicated person. The bar will pay a $10,000 fine and refrain from selling alcohol May 17-May 26. Additionally, all Horseshoes employees must undergo retraining and certification on responsible alcohol service.
The guilty plea comes after relatives of the Abbas family, who lived in Northville, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against the two bars that over-served the driver.
Horseshoes admitted the bar continued to serve Joey Lee Bailey, 41, drinks despite obvious signs of intoxication. Bailey, from Georgetown, Kentucky, had a blood alcohol level of 0.306 and was found to be at fault in the Jan. 6 crash, 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 another bar, 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 south in the northbound lanes of I-75 for about six miles before the crash that killed the Abbas family.
Andy Mayoras, one of the family's attorneys, said the bar was treated as a first-time offender, which was surprising based on the bar's history.
"It means very little for the bar – tantamount to a slap on the wrist," Mayoras told The Detroit News on Wednesday. "The only real deterrence will come through the wrongful death lawsuit that the family filed."
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 Bailey, who died in the crash in January.
The Abbas family was returning home 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.
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."
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.
Mayoras said the "loss of life suffered here is beyond measure."
"Who knows what great things the Abbas children would have accomplished in their lifetimes? It’s not only the Abbas family, but the Northville community and beyond that will deeply feel this loss for a long time to come," Mayoras said. "It is beyond outrageous that the bar gets off with a slap on the wrist despite admitting guilt for letting the drunk driver consume so many drinks and then cause this horrible tragedy."