Lawsuit filed against drunk driver who hit man

By Justin Anderson | Apr 13, 2009

CHARLESTON – The mother of a man who was seriously injured by a drunk driver while walking on Capitol Street is suing the woman and the bars where she allegedly drank.

Geneal Berkhouse, individually and as conservator and guardian of Billy J. Berkhouse filed a lawsuit March 26 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Melissa Newman and two unnamed businesses.

Police said Newman was driving drunk June 7, 2008 when she struck Billy from behind in her Dodge Intrepid as he walked near the Peanut Shop on Capitol Street.

Billy was severely injured and suffered head trauma. He was in a coma for three months after the accident.

Newman is currently facing charges related to the incident.

The lawsuit says Newman pulled out of a parking space on Capitol Street, struck a parked vehicle, drove on the sidewalk and struck a light post before striking Billy.

The two unnamed businesses are accused of serving Newman alcohol when bartenders should have cut her off because she was intoxicated.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages related to Billy's injuries, pain and suffering, lost wages, humiliation and embarrassment.

Tammy Bowles Raines is representing the plaintiffs. The case is before Kanawha Circuit Judge Louis Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 09-C-542

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