An employee incentive policy at a Houston-based chain of gentleman's clubs is now at the center of major lawsuit after the 2011 death of Katherine "Emily" Jones — a high school senior whose truck was tragically struck from behind by a man driving 130 miles an hour.
According to a Monday press release from the Lanier Law Firm, which is leading the suit on behalf of the Jones family, entertainers at Rick's Cabaret are required to pay a nightly fee to work at the club. To help pay for the fee, the nightclub has created a system in which its employees accumulate “credits” based on the number of drinks they sell to patrons.
Erasmo Ramirez had at least 15 drinks the night he killed Jones . Witnesses reported that he was driving without using his headlights at the time of the crash.
The firm claims the incentive program encourages over-serving customers like Erasmo Ramirez, who had at least 15 drinks the night he killed Jones. Witnesses reported that he was driving without using his headlights at the time of the crash.
Attorney Gene Egdorf from Lanier Law told CultureMap Monday that surveillance videos from Rick's Cabaret in northwest Houston show servers at the club selling beers and shots to Ramirez, who currently is serving a 15-year sentence for intoxicated manslaughter, before kicking him out of the club once he was unable to pay.
"The conduct of Rick's is unconscionable," Egdorf said, noting that the club has been sued in the past with regards to its serving policies.
"I've been practicing law for 21 years and I've seen a lot of terrible accidents and deaths. This is easily the most horrendous case I've ever worked on, though. The word 'tragedy' is not enough to describe the events leading to the Emily's death."
"The man blew a .295, three times the legal limit in Texas," attorney Gene Egdorf said. "Rick's [Cabaret] didn't even put him in a cab. They just threw him out on the street ."
A well-known student at Conroe's Caney Creek High School, where she was a member of the color guard team, Emily was rushed to a Houston hospital after Ramirez rammed her truck. She died nine hours later from complications from a subdural brain hemorrhage and extensive blunt force injuries.
"The man blew a .295, three times the legal limit in Texas, when he was finally obtained after the accident," Egdorf said. "Rick's didn't even put him in a cab. They just threw him out on the street. It's wrong on so many levels. Going that fast without his lights on, Emily didn't even see him coming."
Rick's Cabaret had not yet been served with legal papers when CultureMap contacted company spokesman Allan Priaulx on Monday. At the moment, he said he was unable to comment on Lanier Law's press release until more official documentation was available.