Austin City Saloon sued in fatal crash of aspiring singer-songwriter

jkegley@herald-leader.comApril 5, 2013 

Audrey Hounshell

The parents of a 20-year-old singer-songwriter who died in a car crash last year are suing a Lexington bar they said allowed the underage woman to get drunk there.

Kinney and Roberta Hounshell are seeking an undisclosed amount in damages from Austin City Saloon and its owners, George and Deidre Ransdell.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday afternoon in Fayette Circuit Court.

The Hounshells are the parents and estate administrators of Audrey Elizabeth Hounshell, a Lafayette High School graduate who died when her car flipped as she exited New Circle Road at Nicholasville Road early April 12, 2012.

The lawsuit said Audrey Hounshell became intoxicated at Austin City Saloon on Woodhill Drive despite the fact that she was younger than the legal drinking age of 21 and should not have been allowed on the premises.

"While inside ... she imbibed intoxicating beverages sold by Austin City Saloon and participated in their weekly karaoke event," it said.

According to the document, toxicology tests measured Audrey Hounshell's blood-alcohol content as 0.143 after the wreck, nearly twice the legal driving limit of 0.08.

The lawsuit alleges one count of negligence and one count of wrongful death. The bar's owners and employees are accused of "giving, selling or delivering alcoholic beverages, or permitting the same to Audrey" even though she was underage and visibly intoxicated.

The Ransdells did not return messages seeking comment. Lexington attorney Tucker Richardson, who has represented the bar in the past, said he had not talked to them about this case, but he said he did not think they had reviewed the lawsuit Friday.

Sky Fortune, the attorney representing the Hounshells, said the family did not want to issue a public statement.

According to the document, Audrey Hounshell had gone to the bar about 11 p.m. April 11.

She left the bar about 2:30 a.m. April 12, according to the lawsuit. A passing driver saw the wreck about a half hour later and reported it to police.

Police said at the time she over-corrected on the ramp and rolled the car. They said in a news release speed was a factor but did not say whether alcohol was thought to be involved.

Audrey Hounshell was later pronounced dead at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital. She was thrown from the car, which rolled over her before coming to rest on its roof, police have said.

The former Lafayette cheerleader was studying at Bluegrass Community and Technical College to become a dental hygienist. She also was an aspiring country music artist who had recorded one album in Nashville and was working on another, friends and family told the Herald-Leader.

The family is seeking punitive damages, costs for funeral expenses, reparations for Hounshell's pain and suffering and "judgment for the loss of income and earnings of Audrey Elizabeth Hounshell over the remainder of her anticipated life."

The lawsuit also names the Lexington Division of Police and the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board as defendants, saying those organizations didn't properly supervise the bar despite other recent instances in which minors allegedly were caught on the premises.

Josh Kegley: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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