Last December 10, Nicholas Immesberger finished his afternoon bartending shift at The Woods in Jupiter, Florida, and took a seat on the other side of the bar. The 24-year-old Immesberger reportedly drank at the restaurant until approximately 6 p.m., when he got into his 1999 Chevy Corvette and started to drive home. According to a police report, Immesberger was driving at a “high rate of speed” when he crossed three lanes of traffic, left the road, and overturned the vehicle on the side of the highway. He did not survive.
Earlier this week, Immesberger’s parents, Mary Katherine Belowsky and Scott Duchene, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against The Woods; its owner, professional golfer Tiger Woods; and the restaurant’s general manager, Erica Herman, blaming them for ignoring Immesberger’s alcoholism and allowing him to drink after his shifts.
According to the lawsuit, Woods, Herman—who is also Woods’ girlfriend—and the Woods staff “not only ignored Immesberger's disease, they fueled it by over-serving him alcohol to the point of severe intoxication and then sending him out to his car.” At the time of his death, Immesberger’s blood alcohol level was .256, more than three times the legal limit in the state of Florida.
On Tuesday, Immesberger’s family’s attorneys accused The Woods restaurant of destroying security camera footage that showed Immesberger drinking at the bar in the hours before his fatal accident. “One of the most significant issues we have here is the destruction of evidence," attorney Spencer Kuvin said, as reported by ESPN. "Obviously it shows that somebody knew something had gone wrong and they wanted to get rid of that evidence. We have evidence to show that that videotape, showing Nick at the bar that night after he got off at 3 p.m., drinking for three hours at the bar, was destroyed shortly after the crash had occurred.”
Belowsky and Duchene’s attorneys have said that they will ask to have the restaurant’s cameras inspected by a forensic specialist, in order to recover any deleted material.
The lawsuit also alleges that Woods, Herman, and Immesberger’s other coworkers at The Woods knew that he had problems with alcohol, but they still allegedly drank with him, or allowed him to be overserved. “Tiger knew, or reasonably should have known, that Immesberger was habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages, and/or was a habitual drunkard,'' the document reads. (It also suggests that both Woods and Herman both drank with Immesberger “only a few nights” before his death.)
According to The Palm Beach Post, December 10 wasn’t the first time that Immesberger drank to excess at the restaurant. His family’s attorneys allege that both Woods and Herman were present when an intoxicated Immesberger “stumbled into a tray of glasses” before his sister drove him home. He was allegedly picked up from the restaurant on “numerous” occasions after drinking heavily. And a month before his death, he was involved in another car accident that allegedly happened after he attempted to drive while intoxicated.
“The employees and management at The Woods had direct knowledge that Immesberger had a habitual problem with alcohol," the lawsuit said. "In fact, employees and managers knew that Immesberger had attended Alcoholic Anonymous meetings prior to the night of his crash and was attempting to treat his disease. Despite this, the employees and management at The Woods continued to serve Immesberger alcohol while he was working, as well as after work, while he sat at the bar."
Tiger Woods is competing in this week’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York. He was asked about Immesberger, and about the lawsuit, on Tuesday. “We’re all very sad that Nick passed away,” he said. “It was a terrible night, a terrible ending, and just—we feel bad for him and his entire family. It’s very sad.”
Belowsky and Duchene are seeking damages in excess of $15,000.