Cowboys Dancehall sued in case of wrong-way fatal crash

Posted Thursday, May. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The parents of a woman killed by a drunken driver last summer are suing Cowboys Dancehall in Arlington, accusing club employees of serving too much alcohol to the driver and club owners of not having policies to discourage the practice.

Jennifer Rosenberg and Rick Ford sued the nightclub Tuesday after taking depositions from Cowboys employees.

Their daughter, Alex Elizabeth Ford, 20, was killed June 21 after John Layton, 46, made a wrong-way turn onto U.S. 287 in Grand Prairie and slammed head-on into her Honda CRV. Ford and Layton were killed.

The autopsy found that Layton’s blood alcohol content was four times higher than the legal limit of 0.08.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions,” Rosenberg said. “It’s not fair to anyone that has lost a loved one this way. We deserve to know what happened, and we want to have justice for our daughter.”

A spokeswoman for Cowboys Dancehall did not return calls from the Star-Telegram seeking comment. But club officials have said Layton did not appear to be intoxicated.

The suit, filed in civil court in Tarrant County, asserts that Layton had been drinking for several hours that night and that employees knowingly served him too much although he was known as a regular and excessive drinker.

It also asserts that, based on third-party reports, Cowboys sought to control testimony of potential witnesses.

Statements were taken by an outside public relations consultant, but key employees at the club were not interviewed, the suit states.

The lawsuit accuses Cowboys of violating the state Alcoholic Beverage Code by serving an intoxicated customer.

“Mr. Layton’s intoxication proximately caused the death of Alex Ford. Whether directly or indirectly, Cowboys Dancehall encouraged its employees to violate the law,” the suit says. “There is also significant question about whether all employees who served Mr. Layton on June 21 and 22 were certified in a TABC commissioned seller training program.”

Dee Kelly Jr., an attorney representing Ford and Rosenberg, said these “dramshop law cases are heavily guided by statutes and often favor the establishments.”

Rick Ford said he wants justice for his daughter and answers from Cowboys.

“In the lawsuit, we say Cowboys served this man too much alcohol. He was there, and [the employees] can verify he was there,” Ford said.

Elizabeth Campbell, 817-390-7696 Twitter: @fwstliz

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