The Palm Beach Post – Saturday October 20th, 1990
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
BY JOE CAPOZZI
Driver Shouldn’t Have Been Served, Suit Says
FORT PIERCE – A Michigan man whose brother died when the car he was in smashed Into a trac-tor-trailer Is suing a Fort Pierce bar that served liquor to the driver of the car.
In a Suit filed Friday In St. Lucie County Circuit Court, Coy Doyle Haulcomb alleges that Pappy’s Liquors, of 6939 Okeechobee Road, sold alcoholic beverages to Dee Brian Clemmons on Dec. 31, 1988, even though the Fort Pierce man was “a habitual addicted alcoholic.”
Clemmons and 40-year-old Billy Haulcomb, of Berrien Springs, Mich., were killed later that day when Clemmons drove his 1977 Buick into a tractor-trailer that was coming off the Interstate 95-exit ramp on State Road 70.
Miami lawyer Brett Panter, who is representing Coy Doyle Haulcomb, said his case “may raise a few eyebrows” because under Florida law, tavern owners generally cannot be sued for serving customers who are involved In traffic accidents.
But Panter said he plans to build his case around an exception to the law that puts responsibility on tavern owners who serve alco-hol to a customer who Is a known habitual drinker.
Panter who said Billy Haul-comb was divorced: and visiting relatives at the time of his death would not elaborate on how the, tavern owner knew Clemmons was an alcoholic.
“A tavern owner who sells liquor to make a profit has to live under the law,” Panter said. Tavern owners, in my opinion, should be held to a higher standard.”
Panter is seeking more than $1 million in damages for Coy Doyle Haulcomb on behalf of his late, brother’s three daughters, who were 6, 9 and 12 when their father was killed.
Cybil O’StÃ¨en, who runs Pappy’s Liquors with her husbands Howard, said the couple could not comment on the lawsuit because they had not seen it. “We’ve never’ had anything like this before so it’s just better not to say anything.” Clemmons’ family could not be reached, and Haulcomb’s family In Michigan refused comment.
Panter would not say whether Raulcomb had been drinking before he got into Clemmons’ car.
The Florida Highway Patrol’ said Clemmons, 28, of 2599 W. Seminole Road, was driving his 1977 Buick east on SR 70 when Floyd Emerson Horne and his passenger were not hurt. No Charges were filed in the accident.