Womble sues Sixth & Vine and estate of man killed in 2011 crash

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Former State Rep. Larry Womble, D-Forsyth, filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that David Allen Carmichael drank too much and was driving recklessly, resulting in a 2011 car crash that left Womble with serious injuries and killed Carmichael.

He also sued Sixth & Vine, a bar and restaurant, alleging that employees there served Carmichael too much alcohol, even after it was evident that Carmichael was intoxicated.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Forsyth Superior Court and asks for more than $10,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. Neither R. Kenneth Babb, the administrator of Carmichael’s estate, nor Kathleen Barnes, the owner of Sixth & Vine, could immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

Womble was initially charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle after the Dec. 2, 2011 crash. Winston-Salem police said that Womble’s car had crossed the centerline of Reynolds Park Road and crashed into Carmichael’s car. But last November, Steven M. Arbogast, a prosecutor with the N.C. Attorney General’s Office, dismissed the charge after further investigation, including an accident reconstruction, indicated that it was Carmichael’s car that crossed the center line.

According to the lawsuit, Carmichael had been drinking heavily at Sixth & Vine and had four separate receipts from Sixth & Vine in his pockets, the last one just 20 minutes before the collision.

The lawsuit says Carmichael got behind the wheel just after 11 p.m. and started to drive home. While in the eastbound lane of Reynolds Park, Carmichael crossed the centerline and crashed into Womble’s car, which was traveling in the westbound lane. Carmichael died at the scene.

Carmichael had a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit, which is 0.08 percent, the lawsuit said. Womble alleges in the lawsuit that Carmichael was negligent and that he drove his car “recklessly, carelessly and heedlessly in willful and wanton disregard for the rights and safety of others, including plaintiff.”

The lawsuit accuses Sixth & Vine employees of serving Carmichael alcoholic beverages “after they became aware, or should have been aware in the exercise of reasonable care, that Carmichael was intoxicated.”

“The actions of the employees of Defendant 6th & Vine, acting in the course and scope of their employment, in serving alcoholic beverages to David Carmichael while he was in an intoxicated condition on Dec. 2, 2011 constituted negligence and violated the common law of North Carolina,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also alleges that the owners and managers of Sixth & Vine failed to properly train and supervise employees in serving alcoholic beverages to Carmichael.

This is the second time that Sixth & Vine has been sued in connection with a fatal crash involving alcohol.

In 2008, the bar and restaurant reached a settlement with the family of Casey Bokhoven, the man former WXII anchor Tolly Carr hit and killed while driving drunk in 2007.

Womble alleges that Sixth & Vine had been put on notice about the risks of continuing to serve a “visibly intoxicated person,” because of the previous lawsuit. Womble alleges that Sixth & Vine’s conduct represents malice.