Victim Sues Restaurant After Bartender Drugged and Raped Her
According to a complaint, a former bartender at Brennan’s Restaurant drugged and raped a patron. While the alleged assailant is now dead, a civil complaint against the restaurant will move forward and is likely to be successful.
The incident dates back to October of 2015. The plaintiff alleges that the bartender, Sean Kerrigan, put something into the plaintiff’s drink and then continued to over-serve her alcohol before leading her to another bar and then finally back to her own home where the sexual assault took place. The woman said that the assault was violent and occurred over the course of several hours and multiple times. In 2018, Kerrigan died of an unknown cause.
Along with the assailant, a second individual is named in the lawsuit—the restaurant’s manager Chris Lockhart. According to the plaintiff, Lockhart accompanied both the plaintiff and Kerrigan to the second bar and helped escort the woman to the car. The two were involved in the theft of prescription medication and money from the woman’s purse.
Kerrigan was indicted for the sexual assault but died before the case could be adjudicated.
Analyzing the Restaurant’s Liability
There may be no justice for the woman now that Kerrigan is dead, but the civil case against the restaurant will move forward. Since Kerrigan was acting in his capacity as a restaurant employee when the drinks were being served, the restaurant incurs vicarious liability for the conduct of its employees. The allegations also name Lockhart who facilitated the sexual assault.
In these cases, the question of liability comes down to how the restaurant was negligent. In cases where an employee commits an assault against a patron, companies have vicarious liability for their employee’s conduct. However, there may be some question as to whether or not Kerrigan was acting within the scope of his employment duties. The lawsuit states that Kerrigan supplied the woman with alcohol while he was working the bar. But the actual sexual assault occurred at the victim’s own place of residence.
In other words, the victim will need to show that the restaurant incurred vicarious liability because both men were acting as agents of the company when the assault began. That could mean proving that Kerrigan slipped the woman something in her drink or otherwise served a patron that he knew was too intoxicated.
Brennan’s released a press statement notifying the public that the two employees had been terminated “in part” due to their involvement with the assault. A spokesperson for Brennan’s made their defense clear: Since the assault occurred “off-premises” and off work hours, Brennan’s shouldn’t be held liable. However, the assault began when the plaintiff had her drink spiked. But proving that could be difficult.
Talk to a Houston Sexual Assault and Negligent Security Attorney
If you’ve been injured on the premises of a bar or restaurant, there are situations in which the company can be held liable. Talk to the Houston assault & negligent security lawyers at Livingston & Flowers, P.L.L.C. today and we will be happy to sit down with you and discuss your case.