JUPITER, Fla. (CN) – Golfer Tiger Woods is facing a wrongful-death lawsuit claiming his restaurant over-served its alcoholic employee liquor in the hours before the man died in a drunken-driving crash.
Nicholas Immesberger was fatally injured in the roadway accident on his way back from an afternoon work shift at the golfer’s restaurant The Woods on Dec. 10, 2018, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.
The bartender had been drinking alcohol excessively at the Jupiter, Fla. restaurant after his shift, and by the time he hit the road, his blood-alcohol level was at least three times the legal limit, the lawsuit states. .
Around 6 p.m., 15 miles north of the restaurant, Immesberger lost control of his 1999 Corvette, careened across the road and ran into a culvert. The vehicle became airborne and struck a sign and utility trailer.
Immesberger died at the scene, according to the initial crash report.
Monday’s complaint says the restaurant staff had served him liquor despite knowing he was fighting alcoholism and had attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
That’s a key allegation, as Immesberger’s parents are seeking damages under Florida’s dram shop law, which dictates that a bar generally cannot be held liable for injuries arising from the intoxication of a person — unless the bar’s staff knew the person was underage or an alcoholic at the time they served him or her.
The parents, Mary Katherine Belowsky and Scott Duchene, represented by attorney Craig Goldenfarb, say their son was involved in another car crash just one month before the fatal incident. They claim the prior crash likewise happened after their son had been drinking to excess at The Woods.
On “numerous occasions,” Immesberger drank so much at The Woods that he “was unable to function properly” and had to be driven home by family members or friends, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit further alleges that a friend of Immesberger, concerned about his welfare, at one point had asked the restaurant not to serve Immesberger alcohol.
The lawsuit names as defendants Tiger Woods, the Woods Jupiter Inc., and the restaurant manager Erica Herman, who is Woods’ girlfriend.
The Jupiter restaurant is in Harbourside Place, an upscale shopping complex on the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway, not far from the golfer’s massive Jupiter Island mansion.
Woods reclaimed his spot among golf’s active elite last month, when he won the Masters Tournament, his first PGA Major championship since 2008.
The restaurant declined to comment when reached by phone. A sports agency representing Woods did not immediately respond to a request for comment.