Man blames Charleston sports bar for wife's death after drinking

By Chris Dickerson | Feb 21, 2006

CHARLESTON – A Charleston man is blaming a city sports bar for his wife's death in an automobile accident after "she had consumed a number of intoxicating beverages" at the bar.

CHARLESTON – A Charleston man is blaming a city sports bar for his wife's death in an automobile accident after "she had consumed a number of intoxicating beverages" at the bar.

Michael Alan Rhodes, administrator of the estate of Barbara Keener Rhodes, filed the lawsuit Jan. 27 in Kanawha Circuit Court against T&B LLC, doing business as Barney's Sports Bar, and Carl L. and Patricia A. Barnhart, the bar's principal owners, operators and managers.

In the suit, Rhodes says his wife was a customer at the bar, located at 1007 Bigley Avenue, on Feb. 15, 2004, shortly before the accident on Interstate 77 near Sissonville. Barbara Rhodes died two days later as a result of injuries sustained in the accident, the suit says.

Rhodes, who is represented by Charleston attorney Richard L. Earles of Pepper, Nason & Hayes, says his wife consumed a number of alcoholic drinks at the bar shortly before the accident, which occurred about 9 p.m. The suit says that, in the accident, Barbara Rhodes lost control of her vehicle.

"Such loss of control occurred as a direct result of her driving her automobile while intoxicated," the suit states. "Following the accident, Barbara Keener Rhodes' blood alcohol level was determined to be well above the level that constitutes … evidence of DUI in the State of West Virginia."

Rhodes claims that the Barnharts "were solely responsible for the training, supervision and management of the bartenders and alcohol servers employed by Barney's Sports Bar on or about Feb. 15, 2004."

He alleges the bartenders and servers negligently served alcoholic beverages to Barbara Rhodes "notwithstanding her obvious physical signs of drunkenness and physical incapacity, due to alcohol consumption."

Those signs, he claims, included inappropriate and loud behavior.

"Neither the bartenders nor servers employed by defendants … received training with regard to serving alcoholic beverages to persons who are intoxicated and/or physically incapacitated de to alcohol consumption, and as a direct result, failed to recognize that the decedent, Barbara Rhodes, was intoxicated and therefore a physical danger to herself and others regarding operation of an automobile," the suit states.

Rhodes says his wife was served several drinks in a short period of time, thus causing her intoxication. And that, he says, points to a lack of training of the bartenders and servers and a lack of supervision and management.

He says his wife had to endure pain and suffering before her death, and he and his family have suffered sorrow, mental anguish, loss of society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of Barbara Rhodes as well as the loss of service, protection, care and assistance.

In addition, he says he and the family have had medical bills, funeral and burial expenses and other expenses. Also, he says Barbara Rhodes' beneficiaries have suffered the loss of her income. Rhodes also says he and his family have suffered other losses, damages, pain, emotional distress and grief.

He seeks a joint and several judgment of fair and reasonable compensatory damages against the defendants, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, court costs and expenses, attorney fees and other relief.

Rhodes requests a jury trial.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Duke Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 06-C-144

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