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Emily Bowman's parents file suit against bar that served driver | News

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Emily Bowman's parents file suit against bar that served driver
Emily Bowman's parents  file suit against bar that served driver

ATHENS, Ga. (WXIA) -- The parents of the former Kennesaw State University student who suffered lifelong injuries after a convicted drunk, hit-and-run driver struck her two years ago filed suit Friday against the Athens bar that served the driver.

The driver, William Wilson Heaton, pleaded guilty in December to DUI and other crimes, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Atlanta Attorney Richard Kopelman filed the lawsuit in Athens-Clarke County Superior Court on behalf of Emily Bowman and her parents.

They are suing the owners of the now-closed bar in Athens, Bar Code, seeking unspecified payment for her past and future medical expenses, as well as for pain and suffering and for punitive damages.

Named as defendants are the CEO of the company that owned the bar, Chadwick Fellows, and the co-owner and manager, Ryan Masters.

The lawsuit says that Heaton was a regular customer of the bar, known by management and employees to drink to the point of obvious intoxication whenever he was there, and had already been drinking heavily for four hours on the night and early morning of February 15-16, 2013 when he got into his pickup truck and drove away, striking Emily Bowman, who was walking home from a party.

"Heaton was noticeably intoxicated on the premises of Defendant Triple Threat/Barcode while being served alcohol and upon his departure from Barcode in the early morning hours of February 16, 2013. Despite the fact that the Defendants knew, or should have known, that Heaton was intoxicated and likely to be operating his vehicle upon leaving the Barcode's premises, Defendants failed to take steps to protect the public in general, and Emily Bowman in particular, from the danger posed by Heaton."

11Alive News is attempting to reach Fellows and Masters for comment.

The bar's security cameras recorded Heaton buying and drinking at least ten drinks in the four hours prior to getting into his pickup truck and driving into Emily, and driving away without helping her.

"We have statutes on the books, Georgia laws, that say you cannot continue to serve someone who becomes intoxicated and allow him to leave when he is likely to drive," Kopelman said in an interview Friday afternoon.

Kopelman said he does not know for sure, yet, if Fellows and Masters had or have insurance.

"Whether they have it or not, we will pursue the case.... There will never be enough money out of this case to cover all of Emily's medical bills.... It's sad, but there won't be. Obviously, we're going to do our best to recover as much as we can to help lighten, or lessen, that burden for the Bowman family."

Read the lawsuit here. (.PDF)

Emily Bowman suffered severe brain injuries, is receiving treatment and therapy, and with the help of her parents and friends, is recovering slowly. See the update on her recovery here.