Smokey Bones denies liability in slip and fall suit

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Sep 22, 2015


The defendants in a Smokey Bones customer’s slip and fall suit deny the allegations against them and seek to dismiss the complaint.

Gregory Lane filed his lawsuit on July 20 against Barbeque Integrated Inc., Spirit Master Funding VII LLC, Sun Capital Partners Inc. and Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill of Fairview Heights and its owner, Catherine Nelson.

According to the complaint, Lane claims he was a customer at the Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill on Nov. 20, 2013. He claims that due to negligent grounds maintenance, he tripped and fell forcefully when exiting the premises.

Lane claims he sustained severe and disabling injuries to his wrists, elbows, left shoulder, neck, face, mouth and other areas and suffered pain and anguish, lost income and earning capacity, disability and disfigurement. He seeks between $50,000 and $75,000, plus attorney’s fees and costs.

Barbeque Integrated and Spirit Master Funding denied the allegations against them in their separate but similar answers on Aug. 31 through attorneys Craig Jobe and David Ahlheim of Childress Ahlheim Cary in St. Louis.

The defendants argue that Lane’s claims are barred because the alleged damages were not caused by any fault, act or omission of Barbeque Integrated or Spirit Master Funding.

The defendants also claim Lane’s own negligence caused his alleged damages when he failed to heed warnings, failed to rely on knowledge with respect to the area in which the incident occurred and failed to act in a reasonable manner with regard to his own physical wellbeing.

Nelson filed a motion to dismiss Count V on Sept. 9, which alleges negligence.

Nelson claims she was not the possessor or occupier of the premises and did not have complete control over the premises at the time of the alleged incident. Therefore, she claims she does not owe a duty to the plaintiff.

Additionally, she claims she there were two other managers on site and she was just one of the many employees working on the date of the alleged incident.

Nelson is also represented by Jobe and Ahlheim.

Smokey Bones also filed a motion to dismiss on Sept. 9 through Jobe and Ahlheim, arguing that Count IV should be dismissed. It argues that “Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill” is not a legal entity recognized by law, meaning dismissal is proper. It explains that the proper entity is Barbeque Integrated and that “Smokey Bones” is just a trade name or assumed name.

Sun Capital Partners filed a motion to dismiss Count III of the complaint on Sept. 9, arguing that the defendant is a corporate affiliate of Sun Capital Management Partners V, LLC, and the plaintiff has made “no allegations of ‘piercing the corporate veil.’”

“A party seeking to pierce the corporate veil has the burden of making ‘a substantial showing that one corporation is really a dummy or sham for another, and courts will pierce the corporate veil only reluctantly,’” the defendant argues.

Sun Capital Partners claims it owes no duty to the plaintiff because it did not have any control over the premises at the time of the alleged incident.

“Sun Capital Partners Management V, LLC simply entered into an agreement with Defendant Barbeque Integrated, Inc., to provide ‘financial and management consulting services,’” the motion states.

The defendant is also represented by Jobe and Ahlheim.

Lane is represented by Gregory Skinner of Belleville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 15-L-406

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