Parents of teen fatally hit by vehicle files wrongful death lawsuit against Pelham Hooters

From Staff Reports

PELHAM – The family of a teenager who was hit and killed by a vehicle in front of a Hooters restaurant in Pelham has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the restaurant chain because of alleged liquor law violations that led to the teen’s death.

Shortly after Ryan Rohr, 18, left Hooters with friends on May 25, a vehicle fatally hit him while crossing Cahaba Valley Road (Alabama 119), according to a lawsuit filed in Shelby County Circuit Court by Birmingham-based firm Cory Watson Attorneys on behalf of Rohr’s parents.

According to the lawsuit, the impact propelled Rohr’s body about 30 feet down the road.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages from Hooters of Pelham LLC and Hooters of America LLC. A jury will determine the amount if Rohr’s family wins the lawsuit.

The suit claims that waiters at Hooters served Rohr alcohol without asking him to show an ID to ensure that he was of legal drinking age, which is 21.

The suit charges that as an “proximate result of the negligent, wanton, willful and/or wrongful conduct of the defendants in serving alcoholic beverages” to Rohr, who was under the age of 21, he “became grossly intoxicated and was killed.”

According to the lawsuit, Rohr consumed alcohol with three co-workers during a two- to three-hour visit at the restaurant. The suit claims servers continued to provide him alcohol even after he became visibly intoxicated.

Rohr, who was a resident of Bartow County, Georgia, had traveled to Alabama to work on a construction project. He was staying at a hotel across the street from Hooters, and was crossing the street trying to return to the hotel when he was killed.

Another minor in the group was also illegally served alcoholic beverages during the trip to Hooters, according to the lawsuit.

The suit is brought under the Civil Damages Act and Alabama’s Dram Shop Act. The Civil Damages Act “provides a cause of action by a parent or guardian of a minor injured in consequence of intoxication against any person who provides spirituous liquors, contrary to the provisions of law, causing the intoxication of such person.”

The Dram Shop Act “provides a cause of action by any person injured in consequence of intoxication of any person against any person who provides alcohol, contrary to the provisions of law, causing the intoxication of such person.”

The lawsuit also claims negligent hiring, retention, supervision and training on behalf of Hooters.

“This case highlights what happens when a company breaks the law and sells alcohol to a minor,” stated attorney Douglas A. Dellaccio in a news release. “In this case, when Hooters broke the law, a young man died.”

Dellaccio, who represents Rohr’s parents, stated that the medical examiner’s report revealed Rohr had a blood alcohol content of .24 at the time of his death, which is three times the legal limit for an adult.  Any blood alcohol content above 0 is considered illegal for a minor.

“Teenagers are especially vulnerable,” Dellaccio stated. “Hooters knows that. Alabama law clearly holds establishments accountable for upholding the laws governing the sale and service of alcoholic beverages.  Hooters broke the law by serving Ryan alcohol and by continuing to serve him alcohol even after he passed the point of obvious intoxication.

“Ryan died as a result and we are holding them accountable for his death. Those who sell and serve alcohol bear full responsibility for their actions.”