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Last updated on Thursday, November 14, 2013
(SULLIVAN) - A wrongful death civil suit has been filed in Sullivan Couty Superior Court in connection with the August 2012 death of a rural Dugger man who was stuck by a train outside a local tavern.
Karen Bedwell, the widow of Jeffrey Bedwell, the 47-year-old man who was struck by an Indiana Railroad locomotive during the early morning hours of Aug. 5, 2012, has filed suit against the Uptown Tavern, its owner Barbara Kendall and bartender Leslie D. Chapman.
The civil tort suit, filed by attorney Frederick N. Hadley, of the Hadley Law Firm of John's Island, S.C., alleges the late Jeffrey Bedwell entered the tavern, located at 8111 E Main Street in Dugger about 1 a.m. on Aug. 5.
The suit says that Chapman continued to serve Bedwell drinks after he was 'obviously intoxicated' and after she was aware that several patrons had bought 'rounds of drinks' for him that included 'straight shots of alcohol'.
The suit alleges that Chapman continued to serve Bedwell and other patrons alcoholicdrinks after the 3 a.m. 'last call', when according to state law the sale of alcohol is supposed to stop.
At 3:40 a.m. Bedwell left the tavern by a rear door, which is about 20 feet from the railroad tracks.
A few minutes after he exited the bar, bartender Chapman is alleged to have went outside to throw out garbage into a dumpster located next to the tracks and she was able to observe Bedwell in what the suit called 'a helpless, perilous state' sitting on or near the tracks.
The suit says she ignored Bedwell's condition and returned to inside the bar.
About 17 minutes later, at 3:57 a.m., the engineer of a northbound Indiana Railroad train saw Bedwell on the tracks -- either sleeping or passed out. The engineer was unable to stop the train in time and struck and killed Jeffrey Bedwell.
"According to the engineer, Mr. Bedwell was sleeping or passed out sitting atop the track's western-most rail to the train's left front, slumped over, head in his hands, totally unresponsive to the blaring whistles," attorney Hadley wrote in the complaint.
The suit states that Jeffrey Bedwell was extremely intoxicated at the time of his death with a blood/alcohol content of .239 percent -- which is three times the legal limit for intoxication.
Bedwell, who lived on State Road 159, south of Dugger, was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:08 a.m. Sunday, suffering from multiple injuries, according to Sullivan County Sheriff's Department Deputy Justin Bell.
Deputy Bell said video footage from inside the locomotive shows the train had sounded its horn as normal protocol as it was passing several intersections in town.
"Obviously, he (Bedwell) had been in the bar. He was drinking, no doubt. It's a bad deal," Deputy Bell told the Greene County Daily World shortly after the incident.
According to the suit, the tavern and the bartender:
* Breached the duty not to serve Bedwell while he was intoxicated.
* Breached the duty not to abandon Bedwell while he was in a helpful, perilous state, of which the defendants contributed to.
* Breached the duty to not serve Bedwell and other patrons after the 'last call' at 3 a.m.
* Breached the duty to remove all alcohol from Bedwell and other patrons by 3:30 a.m.
Bedwell's wife has asked a jury trial and requested the court for compensation for lost services and earnings of her husband in an amount commensurate with the estate of Jeffrey Bedwell, medical and burial costs, lost future earnings of her late husband and for the cost of the court action.
A hearing date was not immediately set.
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