Firm-Wide blog

Parents Sue Colo. Restaurant for Serving Minors Alcohol, Leading to Fatal Crash

By Burg Simpson
January 21, 2014
2 min read

A 16-year-old girl from Carbondale, Colo., was killed in a car accident in April when the driver of the vehicle swerved into oncoming traffic and collided with a semitruck. Jennifer Nevarez and 18-year-old Brianda Zavala, who was driving the car, visited Bayou Cajun Restaurant in Glenwood Springs, Colo., earlier that night. Nevarez’s parents claim the restaurant illegally served Zavala alcohol, which played a role in the car crash that killed their daughter, Zavala and another passenger, according to the wrongful death lawsuit they filed in Garfield District Court.

Zavala  was given alcohol, which “caused, or was a substantial cause, of her being intoxicated in the morning hours – when the fatal incident occurred,” the lawsuit states. Nevarez’s parents are seeking a jury trial to determine damages in the case, the Aspen Times reported.

The three were killed in the crash that occurred around 5:30 a.m. on Interstate 70 on April 14, the Aspen Times reported. All three victims had blood-alcohol levels above the legal limit, Zavala’s level was 0.241, according to a Colorado State Patrol investigation.

Details of the case
The restaurant closed at 2 a.m., the source said, more than three hours before the crash. However, some believe the three continued drinking at a private residence after leaving the restaurant, according to the Aspen Times.

The bartender who served the minors the night of the crash was convicted in Garfield County Court on a misdemeanor charge. She pleaded no contest and was fined $500 plus court fees of $301.50, the Aspen Times reported. However, the bartender, Denisse Arreola, continues to defend herself, saying she did not serve Nevarez and her friends alcohol.

The wrongful death lawsuit says different. It claims Arreola “knowingly and unlawfully” served Zavala alcohol, the Aspen Daily News reported.

Colorado Department of Revenue/Liquor Enforcement spokeswoman Daria Serna told the source the case is in the “show cause” phase where the Bayou needs to prove why the state should not take action against its liquor license.

The owner of the restaurant, Steve Behem, said he is planning to sell the establishment. This case isn’t the first time the restaurant has been reprimanded for allegedly serving alcohol to minors, the Aspen Times reported. Both in June and November 2011, the restaurant allegedly sold alcohol to underage patrons, a complaint from the city of Glenwood Springs showed.

Additional resources: Auto accident lawyer Colorado

Free case evaluation form