Husk owner: Not responsible for crash suspect
The owner of the acclaimed Husk restaurant is denying it was responsible for a manager charged with causing a fiery, fatal wreck while driving drunk over the Ravenel Bridge in December.
The Neighborhood Dining Group Inc. is seeking to dismiss the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of the victim, bartender Quentin Miller. The company filed its formal response to the complaint Thursday, court records show.
Miller, 32, was killed in the Dec. 17 crash. His family alleges Husk's owner was negligent in allowing assistant manager Adam Joseph Burnell to get drunk on the premises after hours and then get in his car.
Burnell, of Mount Pleasant, was traveling north across the bridge around 4 a.m. when his Audi slammed into the rear of Miller's Mustang, police said.
The impact sent the Mustang spinning into a concrete barrier, where it burst into flames.
The crash left Miller trapped in his car with "multiple body traumas" and led to him "suffering an excruciating death when his body was consumed by flames in the burning vehicle," according to the Feb. 24 lawsuit.
The complaint alleges that Husk allowed Burnell to drink excessively on its Queen Street premises long after the 2 a.m. closing time for bars and then let him drive.
The restaurant denied that in its response.
Husk also said it was responsible "for the hiring, retention and supervision of Mr. Burnell only when Mr. Burnell was acting within the course and scope of his employment."
The restaurant added that Burnell was not "acting within the course and scope of his employment while engaging in conduct that led to the accident in question."
Husk has said Burnell, who faces a charge of felony driving under the influence and was 32 years old at the time of the accident, no longer works there. He was not seriously hurt in the crash and is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. He is free on $52,349 bail while awaiting trial, court records show.
Carl Everette Pierce II, an attorney for Miller's family, said the restaurant's response was a "routine" court filing, but otherwise he had no comment on it Monday.
The lawsuit was transferred to federal court in Charleston from state court last week at Husk's request, partly because The Neighborhood Dining Group is not a South Carolina company. It is based in Georgia.
The case has been assigned to District Judge Richard Gergel. If it goes to trial, jury selection could begin by January.
Husk has racked up numerous accolades since opening in November 2010. It was named No. 1 as "Best New Restaurant in America" from Bon Appetit in 2011, and Southern Living picked Husk as its "Best New Restaurant in the South."