Man hit by former Assistant Prosecutor sues 3 local bars

Bar lawsuit

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Three Grand Rapids bars are facing a lawsuit for allegedly over-serving a then Assistant Prosecutor the night he crashed his car and injured another person.

Former Kent County Assistant Prosecutor, Josh Kuiper, drove the wrong way on a one-way street back in November. He hit a parked car and Daniel Empson.

The crash has gained a lot of attention because of the way the Grand Rapids Police Department handled it.

Though Kuiper admitted to drinking he never got a breathalyzer test. He was written a ticket and driven home by police. Even after officers called the police station telling their Lieutenant, Kuiper was "hammered."

Its an incident that still haunts Brian Molde's client Empson.

"His injuries to his shoulder and his arm are still complicated for him," Molde said. According to Molde, Empson flew nearly 60 feet after being struck by a car Kuiper was driving.

Since then, Empson has taken legal action against Kuiper, filing a civil suit and now his attorney wants to hold others accountable.

"If they hadn't over-served him, hadn't served him to the extent that they did, that this accident wouldn't have happened," Molde added.

Empson has filed a suit against J Gardella's, Luna and former McFaddens Restaurant, now Waldron Public House, for allegedly serving Kuiper when he was already drunk.

"As we were kind of proceeding through getting testimony, taking depositions, discovering the facts of the case, it became very apparent to us that there were a number of people who saw Mr. Kuiper at these establishments that evening who noted that he was intoxicated," Molde said.

The state's Dram Shop Act gives someone the right to take action against an establishment that serves someone who is visibly intoxicated, who then goes on to cause injury or death.

Molde claims Kuiper was at the these three spots prior to the crash.

"The law holds them responsible for whatever injuries and damages occur to people or property as a result of over-serving individuals at establishments," Molde said. "That's the law and that's why we feel its important to hold them responsible."

We reached out to all three places and have heard back from just one.

A Luna spokesperson released this statement to WZZM 13:

"Representatives from Luna have and will continue to cooperate with the investigation into this specific allegation. We firmly believe that our staff followed all applicable laws for serving alcohol in our restaurant, including having multiple individuals with TIPS (training for intervention procedures) certification. We are proud of our quality service to the community and believe that our employees are among the best in West Michigan’s hospitality industry. Luna strives to offer the highest level of service to all customers visiting our restaurant."

Empson is suing for at least $25,000. As for his civil case against Kuiper, his attorney says the judge is waiting on the criminal case against the former assistant prosecutor to finish.

Two of the three officers involved in the incident were suspended while the other was fired.

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© 2017 WZZM-TV


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