The parents of a high school student have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a Lake Worth restaurant and a couple who are accused of driving drunk when they crashed into the family’s White Settlement home in August, killing their 18-year-old daughter.
Amy Kirkland and Kevin Kirkland, the parents of Katey Kirkland, are suing Donald Gruber, Peggy Cox, The Point on Lake Worth, and the owners of the restaurant, which they accuse of overserving Gruber and Cox, according to the lawsuit.
The suit filed Thursday by Amy Kirkland on behalf of herself and her husband in Tarrant County district court seeks monetary relief of more than $1 million. The defendants also include Wildcat Canyon LLC and Woods Inlet LLC, which own and operate the restaurant, according to the suit.
The restaurant did not immediately respond to messages requesting comment.
Gruber and Cox, who police have said were intoxicated, lost control of their vehicle and crashed into the Kirklands’ home in the 9300 block of Jason Court on the evening of Aug. 7, 2022, according to the suit.
Police said Gruber was behind the wheel but both he and Cox are accused of steering the pickup truck at some point before it ran into the house. Cox told police Gruber had a coughing fit while driving, which caused him to pass out, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. She told police that when he passed out, he slumped down onto the steering wheel and his foot pressed the gas pedal all the way down. Cox said she reached over and grabbed the steering wheel to try to control the truck as it accelerated.
Katey was in her bedroom at the time of the crash and was killed. Her father, Kevin, was hospitalized in critical condition.
Gruber, 63, and Cox, 69, were arrested and charged with intoxicated manslaughter.
Before the couple got behind the wheel, they were overserved alcohol at The Point on Lake Worth, the lawsuit alleges.
“Gruber and Cox were obviously intoxicated when they were served, and the Point’s employees knowingly served them alcohol. The Point failed to have properly trained employees, and/or encouraged its employees to ignore the law, in serving Gruber and Cox, which directly led to Katey’s death,” the lawsuit states.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is investigating the Point and the restaurant’s staff for alleged violations of TABC regulations and Texas law, according to the lawsuit.
“Amy brings this lawsuit to hold all defendants accountable for their utter disregard for the safety of Amy’s family and the destruction of human life in the process,” the lawsuit states. “This case involves the destruction of lives because an alcohol-selling establishment served drinks to two obviously intoxicated individuals, who then drove out of the establishment onto public roads. They would eventually lose control of the vehicle (seemingly both operated it), and at high speed, drove across a private lawn, through a fence, and through the Kirklands’ house.”
The staff of The Point at Lake Worth were familiar with Gruber and knew that he regularly drank to intoxication, the suit says. Gruber has previously been arrested and charged with multiple crimes involving a history of drunk driving, according to court records.
Toxicology reports showed Gruber had a blood alcohol level of .085 and Cox had a blood alcohol level of .1, both over the legal limit, according to arrest warrants. Cox told investigators that Gruber had two vodka mixed drinks at the bar and she had three, police said.
“Amy and Kevin have been left without a daughter. Their lives and families have been destroyed,” the lawsuit states. “The bar that served these individuals alcoholic beverages while in an obviously intoxicated state has not been held responsible for its actions. This lawsuit hopes to accomplish that.”
The actions of the restaurant, its owners and staff, and Gruber and Cox were negligent, the lawsuit further alleges.
The actions of the defendants led to mental anguish, loss of companionship, funeral and burial expenses, and other damages, the lawsuit claims.
Katey Kirkland was going to be a senior at Saginaw High School, where her mother is a teacher. Her father teaches at Boswell High School. Amy Kirkland was inside the home at the time of the crash but she was not seriously injured.