West View police chief sues bar in connection with son's death

by: Aaron Aupperlee, TribLIVE Updated:

MCCANDLESS TOWNSHIP, Pa. —

West View police Chief Bruce Fromlak has sued the owner of a McCandless bar where his son drank for seven hours before dying in a car crash.

Billy's Roadhouse on Old Perry Highway continued to serve a visibly drunk Jeffery Fromlak, 26, and allowed him to walk to his car and drive away, the lawsuit contends. He drank from about 11 a.m. to after 6 p.m. on Jan. 27, while participating in “Billy's Winter Beer Olympics.”
William Black, the owner of the bar, did not return calls seeking comment on Friday.

Jeffery Fromlak died when his car hit a concrete abutment on McKnight Road and flipped over. He was thrown from the car, according to court documents.

Bruce Fromlak, who filed the lawsuit in Allegheny County court on behalf of his son's estate, and his attorney declined to comment.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, says Jeffery Fromlak's death was a result of the recklessness, carelessness and negligence of Billy's Roadhouse, its employees and Black.

According to the lawsuit, employees invited Jeffrey Fromlak to participate in “Billy's Winter Beer Olympics” and failed to stop serving Jeffery Fromlak after he became intoxicated. Employees did not arrange a ride home for him and did not notify police when they realized he was drunk, according to the lawsuit.

As host of the beer-drinking event, Black encouraged customers to binge drink, and the event created an environment in which excessive alcohol consumption and drunk behavior was encouraged, according to the lawsuit.

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board rules prohibit bars from serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated customers.

Such lawsuits can result in large settlements. The Hofbrauhaus, a German-themed bar and restaurant in Pittsburgh's South Side, paid $15.6 million to settle a lawsuit filed after Travis Isiminger, 24, of Holbrook, Greene County, drank more than the equivalent of a case of beer, crashed into a car and killed a 7-year-old girl in December 2010. Isiminger was sentenced to six to 12 years in prison and five years of probation for killing Lexa Cleland and severely injuring her mother and killing her mother's unborn child in the crash on East Carson Street.

The Hofbrauhaus settlement required the bar to better monitor alcohol consumption, assist intoxicated guests until they have a safe method of transportation, pay for a taxi — if necessary — to transport drunk customers home and call police if drunk patrons refuse to get a ride home.

This article was written by Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.