Lawsuit claims Austin bar served an intoxicated Nestande



Posted on March 11, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 11 at 6:27 PM

AUSTIN -- A lawsuit has been filed against the bar where Gabrielle Nestande was drinking before getting behind the wheel and hitting and killing Courtney Griffin back in 2011.

On Monday a release from Slack and Davis, a Texas litigation firm, stated that a lawsuit had been filed against Clive Bar on behalf of Griffin's mother, Laurie. Clive Bar is located on Davis Street in the Rainey Street bar district.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $1 million and claims that the bar gave alcohol to an intoxicated person.

The suit also includes four counts against Nestande for "negligence, gross negligence, negligence per se and negligent infliction of a bodily injury." There is one count against Clive Bar for "providing alcohol to an intoxicated adult."

Surveillance video, plus evidence and testimony that came out during the trial last month, prompted Griffin's mother to file the civil lawsuit.

A friend testified during Nestande's trial last month that she was "sloppy drunk" while at Clive. Her bar tab shown in court lists seven beers and two vodka drinks. Bartenders testified during the trial that they served her alcohol.

Attorney Suzanne Kaplan with Slack and Davis is handling the two-part suit.

"There are rules that bars aren't supposed to serve people too much alcohol. And there are a lot of bars in Austin, and if the bars break the rules, people are in danger," Kaplan said. "We need to highlight the fact that bars in Austin are not required to carry insurance for events like this, so there is no guarantee that at the end of the day, there will be any money for the family." 

On Feb. 22, Nestande was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide for hitting Griffin while she was walking home from a friend's house in May 2011. Nestande did not stay at the scene and claims she didn't know she hit someone.

Nestande was sentenced to 10 years of probation and must pay a $10,000 fine.

In the release issued by Slack and Davis, attorney Suzanne Kaplan states, “We need to make our community safer by ensuring that drunk drivers and the bars that over serve them pay for the injuries they cause. The result in the criminal case against Nestande was a slap on the wrist and is an unacceptable end to such a devastating tragedy.”

Griffin's mother is currently supporting a State Senate and House bill that would require harsher penalties on people who leave the scene of fatal crashes.