The owner and employees of a downtown tavern are accused of contributing to a drunken driving crash that killed two Spokane residents in May.
Wrongful-death lawsuits were filed this week against Outback Jack’s World Famous Kangaroo Club and its owner, Don Goligoski.
Julie Allen, 15, of the Spokane Valley and Karen Sederholm, 26, of Spokane were killed when an alleged drunken driver ran a red light at Mission and Hamilton the night of May 25.
Police said a pickup truck driven by James Barstad, 30, raced through the intersection at about 50 mph.
At 2 p.m. that day, Barstad was already intoxicated when he arrived at Outback Jack’s, 321 W. Sprague, according to the lawsuits.
Witnesses said Barstad and his girlfriend spent about an hour at the bar, the lawsuits state. Employees are accused of negligence for serving alcohol to Barstad. The lawsuits did not specify damages.
“It’s hard to fix a dollar amount here. The real issue is the suffering and emotional injuries this awful accident has caused to these families,” said Spokane attorney William Maxey, who represents Allen’s parents.
Goligoski insisted his employees weren’t negligent in serving Barstad.
“Our bartender is very experienced. He saw (Barstad) and his girlfriend come in, have a pitcher of beer, and leave an hour later,” Goligoski said.
Barstad wasn’t driving when the couple left, according to Goligoski.
“The accident happened much later and was more due to drugs. It was alarming the number of drugs police found in his truck,” the owner said.
The accident occurred at 7:30 p.m., several hours after Barstad left the tavern.
Police said Barstad ran the red light and crashed into a car, killing Allen, the passenger. His truck went airborne, smashing into Sederholm’s car.
Five others were also injured in the five-car wreck.
Authorities said Barstad failed a sobriety test after the accident. Afterward, they found marijuana and methamphetamine in his truck.
Spokane County prosecutors have filed first-degree murder charges against Barstad, a Tri-Cities resident. A late-October trial is scheduled.