Jurors to Decide if Nightclub is Responsible in Drunken Driving Crash that Killed a Dallas Cowboy

Wednesday afternoon, jurors heard closing arguments in the civil case stemming from a 2012 drunken driving crash.

Former Dallas Cowboy Josh Brent was convicted of intoxication manslaughter in the criminal case. This month, the victim’s family is suing Brent, the bar that served him alcohol before the crash and the bar’s management company.

Testimony in the trial began last week and focused heavily on whether Brent appeared obviously intoxicated when he was out drinking with friends and teammates the night of the crash. The club Brent was in, Beamers, is now closed.

Under a Texas law, known commonly as the "Dram Shop Act," a business that sells and/or serves alcohol can be liable for any damages or injuries that occur if it's proven they provided alcohol to an "obviously intoxicated" person.

Lawyers for Brown’s family and his estate told the jury that Beamers should have done more to monitor how much Brent was drinking before he got behind the wheel.

Testimony during the trial pointed to surveillance video inside Beamers and to liquor bottles on the table. Lawyers questioned how much Brent may have served himself when he and other teammates partied together with bottle service.

“It’s not enough to say we close our eyes, we did not see anything else,” said Charla Aldous, attorney for the plaintiff. “No, it is your duty to monitor.”

The defense has argued Brent was not obviously drunk at Beamers and was not illegally over-served by the staff.

The defense told the jury that Brent is the person responsible for Brown’s death.

“What about people who drink and drive?” said Spencer Markle, attorney for Beamers. “The message they want to send, from what I heard, is it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault. It’s OK, we’ll blame somebody else.”

On Dec. 8, 2012, Josh Brent and Jerry Brown Jr, best friends and teammates, left Beamers in Brent’s Mercedes. Brent, who was driving, rolled the car while driving 110 mph in Irving a few minutes after leaving the club.

Brent's BAC that night was .189 -- more than two times the legal limit.

Brown’s mother, Stacey Jackson, testified Tuesday in her lawsuit against Beamers and its management company for unspecified damages.

Brent was in court one day to offer testimony. He is also listed as a defendant in the case. Monday, he told the jury Jackson has forgiven him and they remain close. He did not mount a defense in the civil trial. He testified he could not afford to bring an attorney.

Jackson’s lawyers have asked the jury to place more financial responsibility on the bar and its management company.

Jurors are expected back in court at 9 a.m. on Thursday to begin deliberations.

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