Outback Steakhouse Faces Multimillion Dollar Lawsuit - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/19/03

Outback Steakhouse Faces Multimillion Dollar Lawsuit

Even though Brett Walrath lived through his ordeal, the 29-year-old can't talk or walk and is fed through a feeding tube. He will have to have medical care the rest of his life. And now the Walrath family says more than just one person is responsible.

Brett Walrath's life changed drastically four months ago. Brett was riding his bike late one night on the 3700 block of the S. Loop 289 access road. Sixty-two year-old Callie Long allegedly hit him with her car. Police reports indicate Long kept driving for nine minutes before she called 911 to report the accident.

Her Lexus damaged from front to top, windshield shattered. Long had a blood alcohol level of .13%. Walrath was left laying in the road in bad condition.

Police believe Long had drinks at the Outback Steakhouse in Lubbock prior to the accident. And now the Walrath family is suing The Outback for $32.5 million. Charles Dunn is Brett Walrath's attorney. Dunn says The Outback could also be held liable under law. Dunn says he knows some restaurants push alcohol sales for profit and that shouldn't be a priority. "They have incentives to sell, push, and serve alcohol to make money. It's a big money maker to sell alcohol in restaurants," said Dunn.

"It's against the law to sell alcohol to an intoxicated person. And the person serving and collecting money should be observant," said Texas Alcoholic beverage Commission Agent. Steven Carnes.

Carnes says restaurants can loose its alcohol license, be fined, or be suspended from selling alcohol. Just this year, Carnes had to fine and suspend more than a dozen Lubbock restaurants. "It's a very common problem," said Carnes.

So what happens to The Outback? The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday. According to Dunn, the Outback hasn't responded to the lawsuit. Carnes says T.A.B.C. will investigate on what happened that August night.

NewsChannel 11 was not able to reach Outback Steakhouse headquarters for a comment. As far as Brett Walrath, he's in a nursing home receiving 24 hour care. His wife just had their first little boy four days ago.

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