Popular Westport bar Buzzard Beach sued for wrongful death in alleged drunken driving death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Delivery trucks lined the street in front of Westport's Buzzard Beach on Friday afternoon as the drivers dropped off liquor.

Workers refused to talk about the wrongful death lawsuit filed in Jackson County and no one returned our calls to the Westport bar. But the facts of the wrongful death lawsuit are laid out in court documents.

In September of 2013, a suspected drunken driver killed 68-year-old Donald Gipe. Now his mother is suing both the driver, Robert J. Johnson of Kansas City, Kansas, and Buzzard Beach.

Personal injury attorney Doug Horn is not representing the family; but says proving fault in the case will be challenging.

"The standard is very high; we have to show clear and convincing evidence," Horn shared.

Horn says lawsuits are filed for both money and information. And right now, the attorney representing the family has to figure out what Buzzard Beach bartenders knew; and what their cameras may have recorded the night of the accident. 

"There is now liability on a bar or restaurant, or tavern owner if that person is visibly intoxicated such to the point where they represent a harm to either themselves or to others," Horn said.

A possible liability that doesn't sit well with some Westport patrons. Stacy Holcomb is a former bartender; she says some people keep drinking even after they're cut off.

"A friend can order, somebody else can order, give them drinks that you do not know about so it makes it every hard to analyze how many drinks the actual bartender or server gave them versus someone else," Holcomb said.

The James Montee Law Firm is representing the Gipe family. Calls to the law firm and to the Gipe family were not returned.

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