The employee, Nicholas Immesberger, had a blood-alcohol level that was more than three times the legal limit, according to the lawsuit. The suit, filed in Florida, claims Immesberger was overserved at the restaurant before getting into his car to drive home.
In addition to Woods and his restaurant, The Woods Jupiter, the lawsuit also named the golfer’s girlfriend, Erica Herman, who was the general manager of the establishment in Jupiter, Florida.
They “knew [Immesberger] was suffering from the disease of alcoholism,” the lawsuit stated, and not only “ignored” that but “fueled it” by letting him drink at the restaurant’s bar “to the point of severe intoxication.”
Immesberger, 24, who died Dec. 10, was a bartender at The Woods. According to the lawsuit, filed in a Palm Beach County court on behalf of his parents, he ended his shift at approximately 3 p.m. that day and stayed at the restaurant, “sitting at the bar area,” until he headed home.
The Florida Highway Patrol said at the time that Immesberger’s accident occurred at approximately 6 p.m. along a stretch of U.S. 1 almost 16 miles north of The Woods. He was said to have lost control of his 1999 Chevrolet Corvette and veered right across three lanes of the highway, running into a grass area before going airborne. He was not wearing a seat belt.
Per the lawsuit, Herman “personally knew” Immesberger and “specifically recruited” him to work at The Woods, and she was “well aware” of his “habitual use of alcohol.” As Woods has staged a career comeback that began last year and culminated in his triumph last month at the Masters, Herman has become a familiar figure to golf fans, who have seen Woods greet her with affection after completing rounds.
The lawsuit states Woods and Herman were drinking with Immesberger at the bar of The Woods “only a few nights before the fatal crash.” Employees and management of the restaurant were described as being aware that Immesberger had attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and as having continued to serve him drinks even though they knew he had “no other way home” apart from driving there.
Representatives for Woods could not be immediately reached for comment on the lawsuit.
The legal action is seeking damages in excess of $15,000, citing emotional and financial harm to his parents, Katherine Belowsky and Scott Duchene. Attorneys representing the parents announced a news conference to be held Tuesday at the attorneys’ offices in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Woods is also expected to participate in a news conference Tuesday (per CNN), at which he is set to promote the PGA Championship, which starts Thursday on Long Island. The 43-year-old will be seeking to earn a second straight major title following his win last month at the Masters, which was his first major victory since 2008.
This article was written by Des Bieler, a reporter for The Washington Post.