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Lawsuit: Longview bar owner responsible for alcohol death

By Sarah Thomas sthomas@news-journal.com
Feb. 6, 2014 at 11 p.m.


A lawsuit has been filed against a popular Longview bar after one of its patrons died from a blood alcohol level nearly six times the legal limit, according to documents obtained Thursday afternoon.

Wesley and Cindy Bickerdike are suing Gerald's Social Club, 106 East Tyler St., for more than $1 million, damages they claim they are entitled to because their son Brian Bickerdike died as a result of being served an excessive amount of alcohol by the club's staff.

Gregg County Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Talyna Carlson pronounced Bickerdike dead and autopsy results released by her office state the 25-year-old died of acute alcohol poisoning and had a blood alcohol level of 0.479.

Gerald Rodriguez, owner of Gerald's Social Club and the Tyler Street Bistro, declined to comment Thursday afternoon.

Documents show Rodriguez's attorneys filed a response to the lawsuit Tuesday, denying any responsibility in Bickerdike's death, stating "defendant denies each and every, all and singular, the material allegations contained within Plaintiff's pleadings and demands strict proof thereof."

Documents also show Rodriguez and the Bickerdikes want a jury to hear the case.

Brian Bickerdike was drinking at Gerald's with friends on Dec. 13, according to the lawsuit filed Jan. 29 in the Gregg County District Clerk's Office.

The lawsuit says friends helped him out of the bar at 2 a.m. Dec. 14, and after about 30 minutes, he ended up at a friend's house, where he died a few hours later.

The lawsuit alleges staff served Bickerdike until he was in an "obviously intoxicated" state, knowingly sold alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person in violation of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code and continued serving him "when by exercise of reasonable care" Gerald's should have known Bickerdike was intoxicated.

The lawsuit claims the defendant was grossly negligent and acted with malice and "conscious indifference to the rights, safety or welfare of others."

Rodriguez is represented by Dallas attorneys Bryan P. Reese, Jennifer M. Lee and Holly Colvin of the Fee, Smith, Sharp and Vitullo law firm.

The Bickerdikes are represented by Tyler attorney Luke Bickham.

<em>- Follow Sarah Thomas on Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/sarahlnj" target="_blank">@SarahLNJ</a></em>

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