Heather Isringhausen Gvillo Jan. 30, 2015, 8:36am

A Godfrey bar and its owner accused of serving alcohol to a man who allegedly drove drunk and caused a crash are blaming the plaintiff for “provoking” the alleged incident.

Plaintiff Evelyn Houston filed her lawsuit on Oct. 9 against Scott A. Roper, individually and doing business as Roper’s Regal Beagle. Regal Beagle Inc. and Timothy Taylor are also named as defendants.

Houston claims in her lawsuit that she was seriously hurt in a crash caused by Taylor on Oct. 19, 2013, on Godfrey Road. She alleges that prior to the crash, Taylor had been served alcohol to the point of intoxication at Roper’s Regal Beagle and then allowed to leave the bar.

The suit states that Taylor then crashed his Ford Mustang into a Dodge Ram driven by Houston on state Route 255 near the Godfrey Road intersection.

Houston accuses Taylor of negligence and accuses Roper’s Regal Beagle and its owner of violating the Illinois Dram Shop Act.

Roper and the Regal Beagle answered the complaint on Nov. 12, denying the allegations.

Instead, they argue that Houston provoked the alleged occurrence when she became intoxicated and encouraged Taylor to become intoxicated. She’s also accused of acting in a “reckless, shocking, offensive and careless manner.”

They claim Houston then intentionally engaged in the encounter when she could have avoided it.

“Plaintiff actively provoked the conduct of the allegedly intoxicated person through verbal threats and fighting words, threats of immediate harmful and offensively bodily contact, and unwanted, harmful and offensive contact which caused the plaintiff’s alleged injuries,” the defendants assert.

On Nov. 20, Houston answered the affirmative damages and denying them.

Taylor answered the complaint on Nov. 19. He denied the allegations against him and instead filed a counterclaim against Houston.

Taylor argues that Houston’s alleged damages are the result of her own negligence.

Houston answered Taylor’s affirmative defenses on Nov. 21, denying the allegations against her.

With her answer, Houston also filed a motion to strike the affirmative defenses, claiming Taylor made “no allegations of fact which support his claim that plaintiff was negligent.”

“Defendant’s affirmative defenses do not inform the plaintiff adequately of the nature of the factual occurrence upon which the defendant relies for a reduction of judgment based on comparative fault,” the motion states.

Houston seeks more than $50,000 for medical expenses, pain and suffering, plus court costs.

Francis J. Lynch of Wolter, Beeman & Lynch in Springfield, Ill., represents Houston.

Jennifer L. Barbieri of Clayborne, Sabo & Wagner LLP in Belleville represents Taylor.

Stephen J. Moore and Matthew R. Buckley of Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr & Smith in St. Louis represents Roper and the Regal Beagle.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 14-L-1379

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