The family of a man killed in 2012 while riding with drunk former Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent hopes a jury will hold the nightclub accused of overserving Brent responsible.
Jerry Brown, who played on the Cowboys practice squad, was with Brent, drinking and partying at a Dallas nightclub before Brent crashed his car, killing brown. Brent served 180 days in jail and Brown's mother notably forgave him during the criminal trial.
Jurors are still being picked for the civil trial against Beamers private nightclub. The trial is expected to start Wednesday, but finding a jury in a high profile case can be challenging.
Attorneys have questioned hundreds of prospective jurors and there will be about another 100 more quizzed on Tuesday before the pools is narrowed down to a final 12 and a few alternates.
Dallas attorney Mark Werbner is not involved in the case, but has tried similar ones before. He says people should expect a lot of emotion.
“The plaintiff’s family has to demonstrate that alcohol was served. That this person was so intoxicated to have been obviously intoxicated. Not just intoxicated, but obviously intoxicated to a degree that there would be harm to himself or others,” Werbner said. “The defense will certainly want to battle that and show that they were very prudent and sent bartenders to schools to learn all the TABC, texas alchool and beverage commission, rules.”
Werbner says in cases like these, jurors are often shown surveillance camera evidence from the night in question -- if it's available -- showing who was intoxicated, their interactions and behavior.
Werbner says social media will also be at play.
Mentioned in the lawsuit are tweets by the club's own staff, bragging about Cowboys players being in the club that night buying large amounts of champagne, "Ace on top of Ace.”
Werbner says that's a real time, unguarded account by a sober party which may carry extra weight with jurors.
“When you have evidence that supports the claim, where it comes from the bars own employees, that's particularly damaging. Can even be a smoking gun in some cases,” Werbner said.
In the filed response to the lawsuit, the defense claims Brent was the sole cause of Brown's death because he was drunk, and speeding when he lost control of his car.
“It's going to really turn on the evidence about how much alcohol was served,” Werbner said.
Brent, who is on probation for Brown's death, has been subpoenaed to testify.