Bar that served driver before crash sued


MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The family of an Aberdeen man killed by a Montana motorist later convicted of vehicular homicide while under the influence has filed a lawsuit against the bar where the man was drinking before getting into his vehicle.

The Missoulian reports the attorney for the estate of Brian Beaver filed the lawsuit Thursday in Missoula County District Court against KT’s Hayloft Saloon.

The lawsuit contends the bar failed to use reasonable care when it served a visibly drunk Brian Holm on Nov. 9, 2010. Minutes after Holm left the bar about 10:30 p.m., he drove onto a sidewalk and killed the 24-year-old from Aberdeen.

“Not only did they serve him alcohol while he was at the bar, they also gave him a go cup when he left,” said attorney Paul Ryan. “They gave him alcohol for the road and 10 minutes later that accident happened. We’re seeking damages allowable by law.”

Beaver was with two friends on their way to Yellowstone National Park when they stopped in Missoula. The three were walking to dinner along Brooks Street when Holm ran his car onto the sidewalk.

The lawsuit seeks damages that include wrongful death, medical and burial costs, and future economic loss. The suit also seeks compensation for the loss of companionship Beaver provided his wife and son “which would have continued had his untimely death not occurred.”

Holm was convicted in August 2011 of vehicular homicide while under the influence. Holm argued at trial that neither the alcohol nor drugs he had ingested impaired his driving. But Holm’s blood-alcohol level registered 0.10 after the crash, above the 0.08 level at which a person is considered legally drunk. He also said, in the hours leading up to the accident, he took a prescription painkiller, sleep aid and antidepressant.

Hayloft owner Frank Miller said the bar is not responsible for Beaver’s death. He said surveillance footage shows that Holm wasn’t visibly intoxicated when he left the bar.

“I feel we did no wrong at the saloon,” Miller said. “I feel the Hayloft and my help did no wrong at all and the tapes verify that.”

He also said the mixed drink given to Holm in a go cup was intended for Holm’s wife and was supposed to be consumed on the premises.

“The mixed drink was for (Holm’s) wife, and even if he did end up drinking it, it was intended to go out to the smoking shack,” Miller said.

Holm was sentenced to 30 years in prison, with half suspended, after his conviction. He remains free while the conviction is appealed to the Montana Supreme Court.