Carl Pierce, an attorney for the plaintiff in the lawsuit filed against the owners of Husk restaurant, says the restaurant allowed Assistant Manager Adam Joseph Burnell to consume free drinks after the business closed on the evening of Dec. 16. He gives the following narrative for the night leading up to Burnell's Dec. 17 car wreck on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge:
"He stays with other Husk employees and drinks 'til nearly 4 in the morning ... He attempts to go home to Mt. Pleasant. No one tries to take his keys; no one offers him a ride home ... I think the investigation will reveal the alcohol was free, and it's not the first time."
Pierce represents the estate of Quentin Gregory Miller, the Mt. Pleasant man who died in a fiery crash on the bridge that night after Burnell's car rear-ended his vehicle. The family has sued, alleging that the Neighborhood Dining Group, the company that owns Husk, allowed Burnell to drink after hours and drive home drunk. Pierce says that when Burnell was arrested on the bridge in the pre-dawn hours that Saturday, he had a blood alcohol content of .242, three times the legal limit in South Carolina.
As for the claim that Burnell was drinking at Husk, and not at a private residence or another bar, Pierce doesn't want to reveal his sources yet, but he says, "I don't think there will be any dispute on that."
Pierce says Miller's family does not wish to give a public comment, but he says they want some good to come out of the situation. "These lawsuits, a lot of people think they're about money, but this family wants things to change," he says. "They don't want bars and restaurants serving drinks two hours after closing time and to three times the legal limit." Pierce says the decision about monetary damages in the lawsuit will be left to a jury.
David Howard, president of the Neighborhood Dining Group, says the company is unable to respond to questions about the lawsuit due to legal complexities, but he adds, "Our hearts go out to the Miller family."
Read the full text of the lawsuit below:
Husk Lawsuit 2012