Three Eureka bars, driver sued by mother of man killed in drunk-driving accident

Thursday, January 10, 2013

In ongoing civil lawsuits stemming from the drunk-driving death of Leonard Beck in 2009, Beck's mother is suing not only the driver of the vehicle in which her son was killed, but three Eureka Springs taverns for alleged negligence.

According to a police report, on Oct. 11, 2009, Tonya Sherman, 21, of Eureka Springs was driving a vehicle in which Leonard Beck, 28, of Eureka Springs was a passenger; they were headed northbound on Highway 23 North in Eureka Springs.

On approaching Highway 187 at 2:05 a.m., Sherman traveled off the roadway to her left, over-corrected back to her right, and lost control of the vehicle. Her Dodge Ram pickup slid sideways, traveled down an embankment and struck a large tree, causing the truck to spin 180 degrees, police reports show. Sherman was taken to Eureka Springs Hospital, and Beck was pronounced dead at the scene.

The affidavit of probable cause for her arrest on Dec. 22 showed Sherman's blood alcohol level at 0.20 percent -- more than twice the legal limit. A blood sample taken from Beck at the funeral home showed his level to be 0.23 percent, nearly three times the limit.

Sherman had been previously convicted of driving while intoxicated, in 2007.

She was arrested and charged with negligent homicide, a Class C felony, in January 2010 and later convicted. She served a one-year sentence, from September 2010 to September 2011.

Joyce Beck, the mother of the deceased, filed suit Feb. 28, 2012, against Sherman and against two Eureka Springs establishments that allegedly served alcohol to her: the Pied Piper Lounge and the Tiki Torch Club, as well as individually against Fatima Treuer, owner of the Pied Piper Pub and the adjoining Cathouse Lounge. The suit holds the bars liable for damages because they allegedly sold alcohol to Sherman when she was "clearly intoxicated" before the wreck. Specifically, the complaint states the bars failed to correctly supervise employees; failed to ensure public health and safety; failed to warn (Leonard) Beck of Sherman's intoxicated condition; failed to detain Sherman and Beck "when they were in need of alternative transportation or assistance under the circumstances"; and knowingly allowed Sherman to leave in an intoxicated condition. The suit requests a jury trial and seeks punitive damages.

Beck filed an amended complaint last week, adding the Firehouse Pub, LLC and Smokey's Firehouse Pub, LLC, both owned by Joel Schleiff of Fayetteville, as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Court document answers from the various defendants to Beck's complaint deny the allegations.

J. Barrett Deacon, attorney for Pied Piper, said on Monday, "Since litigation is pending, we are unfortunately not able to address specific facts. We have to let the court process run its course, but once it does, we will prove that Ms. Treuer and the Pied Piper were not involved in this unfortunate and tragic accident."

Other defendants and attorneys had not responded as of press time.

A second lawsuit was filed May 17, 2012, by American Western Home Insurance Co., the insurer of LMD of Eureka Springs, owner of the now-closed Tiki Torch. Naming all interested parties as defendants as required by law, the initial suit requested a declaratory judgment that LMD's insurance policy -- though in effect when the accident took place -- excluded liquor liability and liability for bodily injury resulting from the intoxication of a person or the furnishing of alcohol to someone under the influence of alcohol. In late December, AWH filed another motion, for summary judgment. No ruling has been issued on that yet.

Depositions will be taken in January and February, discovery deadline is April 15, and trial is set for July 15-19.

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  • As sad as this is, why is it that bar owners, or any establishment that serves alcohol, should have to babysit, or be held responsible for customers that come in and decide to drink themselfs drunk!! I mean give me a break, if someone doesn't know when to stop drink, that is the first S to stick on their forehead (for stupid)! and then if they don't know they shouldn't be in a car with a driver under the influence of drinking, that is the 2nd S that should stick on their forhead. There is just so much stupidity in all this that continues to go on day after day, that, the 3rs S is that neither the driver or passenger gave a **** about anyone else on the road they make have hurt, maimed or killed. So in my book 3 S's and your **** out of luck.... I have no compassion for anyone that has the 3 S's on their forehead!!

    People should be responsible for their own actions and body's. If your old enough to drink, act like an adult. And the mother clearly is just out to make a buck and sue as many people as she can file against legally. I think that really makes her son's death vain, that she is using his death to make as much money as possible of this.

    When her son should have known better, and been responsible adult at 28 yrs old for his own actions.There is a consequence to every choice on makes in life. Either Good or Bad. I am middle aged and i have never gotten behind the wheel or let anyone drive me anywhere under influence of alcohol! I choose not to stick any S's on my forehead!

    -- Posted by animal angel on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 6:10 PM
  • Good for her. Run 'em into the ground.

    -- Posted by Atlas Shrugged on Sat, Jan 12, 2013, at 1:21 AM
  • As Bar owners and business people it's their responsibility. Don't over serve. Be alert.

    -- Posted by HCain on Sun, Jan 13, 2013, at 10:35 AM
  • Hey HCain, if your seeing this, bullshit, why should it be an bar owners responsibility for what a grown adult does to him or herself!!? Get real...

    This is the stupidest law there is!

    Again, if someone does not know when to stop drinking and then is dumb enough to get into a 3,000 lb weapon, well..... they deserve what is coming for their bad choice, there will be bad results. Period!

    -- Posted by animal angel on Mon, Jan 14, 2013, at 8:32 PM
  • The money didn't go to my grandma it went to me me brother who is 6 and my sister who is 9 and I'm 11 and it was my dads truck

    -- Posted by Kaleb Beck on Thu, Feb 19, 2015, at 3:38 PM
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