The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

October 27, 2012

Bar tries to fend off suit over crash

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

OTTER CREEK TOWNSHIP — Officials of an Otter Creek Township bar sued over a fatal accident involving one of its patrons have asked that the action be dismissed.

Draw Bar and Grille, 626 Hadley Road, has filed preliminary objections to the suit filed by Andrea Sires, mother of James E. Sires Jr., saying the suit is insufficient because it does not allege that the bar served the driver of the pickup Sires was in, or that Sires was harmed while on the premises.

Sires was killed in a crash May 11, 2011, on Mitchell Hill Road, Salem Township. He was a passenger in the pickup driven by Ben L. Loutzenhiser, 26, of Greenville.

Loutzenhiser told state police he did not remember the accident, but called for help when he noticed blood on Sires’ head.

Loutzenhiser pleaded guilty Aug. 24 to criminal charges of drunken driving-first offense, homicide by vehicle, reckless driving and accident involving death. His sentence is pending.

Sires’ mom, Andrea Sires, the executrix of his estate, sued the Draw Bar in 2011. The suit alleges that Loutzenhiser and her son entered the bar together and Loutzenhiser acted erratically, attempted to buy a shot of alcohol, refused to calm down and pulled out pills, one or more of which he ingested.

A bartender threw Loutzenhiser out of the bar and saw him enter his pickup, spin the tires and do doughnuts in the parking lot, the suit said.

The bartender threw out Sires “for no legitimate reason, knowing that it was foreseeable he would be in a vehicle with ... Loutzenhiser, who was acting in a criminal and irrational manner,” the suit said.

The suit charges the Draw Bar with wrongful death and negligence, arguing bar employees should not have thrown out Loutzenhiser or Sires, but should have warned Sires of Loutzenhiser’s behavior or had proper security in the bar.

The Draw Bar has not filed an answer to the suit, but its preliminary objections argue Andrea Sires failed to allege that James Sires’ death was a result of Loutzenhiser having been furnished alcohol, or that Sires was harmed on the bar property.

The bar also argued that Sires was a voluntary passenger of Loutzenhiser.

Because of these deficiencies in the suit, it should be dismissed, the bar said.