GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The man who was injured when a former Kent County assistant prosecutor hit his car is now suing three bars, claiming Joshua Kuiper was over-served when he visited them before the crash.
The suit names The Waldron Public House, which is the former McFadden’s; Luna, a Latin restaurant next door; and J. Gardella’s, which is down the street, as defendants.
The suit was filed by Johnson Law on behalf of Daniel Empson. He was injured Nov. 19, 2016 when Kuiper drove the wrong way down Union Avenue SE in Grand Rapids and struck Empson’s parked car head-on. Empson said he suffered a fractured shoulder.
“Is it fair to say Mr. Kuiper is responsible? Of course it is,” attorney Brian Molde with Johnson Law said. “Is it fair to say that others are responsible as well? I think that’s true, too.”
Molde says his firm has collected depositions from roughly half a dozen people who witnessed Kuiper’s actions the night of the crash, starting at The Waldron House, where he was attending a retirement party for the former prosecutor.
“They told us that first of all, Mr. Kuiper was there, that he was drinking alcohol while he was there. And then they described him in various terms about his behavior — what they saw of him, conversations they had with him — all which led us to believe it was reasonable to say that these establishments, the bars that we sued, knew or should have known that he was intoxicated when they were serving him,” Molde said.
According to Molde, witnesses said Kuiper left The Waldron House with a group of people and went next door to Luna to grab dinner — and more drinks — then to Gardella’s, where he continued to drink.
“That’s the last place that we’ve been able to establish where he was that evening” before the crash, Molde said.
“Michigan law puts liability and responsibility for establishments that are given a license to serve alcohol,” Molde continued. “Had he been restricted from being served alcohol at one of these establishments, the crash wouldn’t have occurred.”
Empson’s lawsuit is asking for more than $25,000 from each bar. 24 Hour News 8 reached out to all three establishments Tuesday seeking comment, but did not hear back.
Empson has already sued Kuiper for the crash.
Kuiper has resigned from the prosecutor’s office. He faces criminal charges for the crash, but not for drunken driving because responding police officers never tested his blood alcohol content level. Two officers were disciplined and a third lost his job over the way the crash was handled.