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Tiger Woods Named in Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida

Posted in: Blog, Car Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Serious Personal Injury // Written on behalf of Cuming & Gillespie
May 23, 2019

A wrongful death lawsuit against Tiger Woods (“Tiger”) and his girlfriend has been filed in Palm Beach County, Florida by the parents of Nicholas Immesberger (“Immesberger”).

WHAT HAPPENED?

On December 10, 2018, Immesberger was driving home in his Corvette from The Woods Jupiter restaurant and bar where he had been drinking for hours.  The 24-year-old was an employee at The Woods and died in a single vehicle collision at approximately 6 p.m. 

According to the lawsuit, Immesberger completed his bartending shift at 3 p.m. and then began drinking at the bar for several hours before getting into his vehicle to drive home. 

A report prepared by Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles indicates that Immesberger lost control of his vehicle, proceeded across several lanes to the grass divider, left the ground and then collided with a sign and a parked vehicle.

At the time of the accident, Immesberger was speeding and was not wearing his seat belt.  He was driving approximately 70 mph in a 55 mph zone.  He was also found to have a blood alcohol level of .256, which is more than three times the legal limit.

THE ALLEGATIONS

The lawsuit has been commenced against Tiger (as the owner of The Woods restaurant where Immesberger worked) and The Woods Jupiter corporation, which runs The Woods restaurant in Jupiter, Florida. Tiger’s girlfriend, Erica Herman, is the general manager of the restaurant and was also named in the lawsuit.

It is alleged that Tiger is responsible for ensuring that his employees and management were not over-serving employees and customers and that Tiger is “individually liable in this action because he individually participated in the serving of alcohol to Immesberger” given that he was aware that Immesberger had a problem with alcohol. 

The lawsuit further states that “the employees, management and owners of The Woods over-served a young man they knew was suffering with the disease of alcoholism.”  It is further alleged that they “ignored Immesberger’s disease, they fueled it by over-serving him alcohol to the point of severe intoxication and then sending him out to his car to drive home.  As a result of this negligence Immesberger crashed his vehicle and died on December 10, 2018 after leaving The Woods.”

According to the lawsuit, Herman “personally knew Immesberger, specifically recruited him to work at The Woods and was well aware of Immesberger’s habitual abuse of alcohol.”  The suit alleges that Tiger personally knew Immesberger and Tiger and his girlfriend had discussed Immesberger’s drinking of alcohol. The lawsuit specifically states that just a few days prior to the crash, Immesberger had been drinking alcohol at the restaurant’s bar with both Tiger and Herman. 

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants’ negligence caused or contributed to Immesberger’s death as he was served alcohol even though they knew that he was an alcoholic.

According to the lawsuit, employees at The Woods were aware that Immesberger had crashed another vehicle while driving home one month prior and friends of Immesberger had told employees to stop serving him alcohol.

It is the law in Florida that when a business over-serves someone known to be addicted to alcohol, that business is responsible for any consequences. That is why there appears to be so many references within the lawsuit to Tiger, Herman and other employees being aware that Immesberger was a habitual drinker of alcohol and an alcoholic.

The lawyer for the Immesberger family also has alleged that there has been a destruction of evidence.  Attorney Spencer Kuvin stated:

We have evidence to show that that videotape, showing Nick at the bar after he got off at 3 p.m., drinking for three hours at the bar, was destroyed shortly after the crash had occurred. …  So we have through our investigation uncovered evidence to show that the bar knew what happened, they knew about the crash that night and shortly thereafter that video evidence was destroyed and deleted off the servers they had there at The Woods.

None of the allegations contained in the lawsuit have been proven in court and we are not aware of any written response by the defendants to these allegations.

COMMERCIAL HOST LIABILITY IN CANADA

It is established law in Canada that commercial hosts (i.e. bars and restaurants) owe a duty of care to their customers who are likely to drive after drinking in their establishments. 

The Supreme Court of Canada in the 1990’s took this principle even further by finding that restaurants and bars could be liable to third parties who suffered injuries by drunk drivers as a result of drinking at their establishment. 

The Supreme Court decision in the case of Stewart v. Pettie confirmed that a licensed establishment has a duty to “intervene” in the appropriate circumstances or risk liability.  Furthermore, the court held that a licensed establishment cannot escape liability on the belief that the customer did not “appear drunk”.

If you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk driver, and think an establishment or host failed to stop the driver from getting in the car, call us at 403-571-0555 or online to book an appointment today for a free consultation.  We can help answer your questions and help you take legal action against the person or persons responsible for your injuries.  Our team of experienced personal injury lawyers will review your file thoroughly and provide you with an honest assessment of your potential claim.

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