Lawsuit: Bar Negligent for Serving Man Who Later Killed 8

A lawsuit is accusing a bar of negligence for serving alcohol to a man who later killed his estranged wife and seven other people at a Collin County, Texas, home during a football watch party.

Attorneys for a surviving victim filed the lawsuit in late March.

The suit alleges the gunman, Spencer Hight, went drinking at Local Public House in Plano twice the afternoon of the shooting.

During the first visit at 2:39 p.m., he ordered two gin and tonics, according to a recent Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission report. 

Police believe Hight went back to his apartment and drank more before returning to the bar four hours later, at 6:38 p.m., and ordering a Miller Lite. 

Minutes later, he ordered another Miller Lite along with a shot of lemon vodka, according to a bartender's initial account.

According to the TABC report, the bartender told investigators she then saw Hight with a knife and allegedly texted a co-worker: "Spencer has a big knife on the bar and is spinning it and just asked for his tab and said i have some dirty work to go do."

Shortly after, a bartender said Hight pulled out a pistol on the bar's patio, according to the report.

When a second bartender followed Hight to his car to put the pistol away, Hight reportedly "fell backward," so the bartender "propped Hight up," the report said. They returned to the patio where the second bartender pointed out to Hight how drunk he was. Hight's alleged response was that he "couldn't do the things I want to do tonight without being this intoxicated."

The report says the second bartender called a supervisor to ask if he should call police. The bartender told police he was told no.

It's believed Hight then drunkenly drove to his estranged wife's home and killed Meredith Hight and seven of her friends during a football watch party, according to the report.

Carly Shockey, who was 25 at the time, was shot in the face.

Responding police fatally shot Hight. An autopsy revealed his blood alcohol content at the time of his death was .33, four times the legal limit.

The TABC report concludes what happened is grounds for the bar's license to be revoked.

The lawsuit accuses the bar and its bartenders of gross negligence for serving Hight alcohol. It seeks more than $1 million in damages for Shockey, who is still recovering.

Hunter Biederman, a Frisco attorney not affiliated with the case says while the bar may be guilty of serving Hight when he was already drunk, he says the civil lawsuit seems like a stretch.

"The reason is is that they need to prove that this serving of alcohol is the direct and proximate cause of the death at the house and I think that's going to be difficult for the plaintiff to do," Biederman said.

Investigators confirmed the identities of the eight victims as: 27-year-old Meredith Emily Hight, the estranged wife of the suspect; 33-year-old Anthony "Tony" Michael Cross; 24-year-old Olivia Nicole Deffner; 29-year-old James Richard Dunlop; 22-year-old Darryl William Hawkins; 31-year-old Rion Christopher Morgan; 28-year-old Myah Sade Bass and 25-year-old Caleb Seth Edwards.

When reached by phone on Friday, a man who identified himself as a kitchen manager said the bar had no comment. 

A call to a phone number believed to belong to the bar's owner has not been returned, nor have calls and an email to the bar's attorney.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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