Hopkins Icehouse denies responsibility for drunk driving fatality

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The owners of a popular downtown Texarkana watering hole filed responses recently to wrongful death suits connected to a 2013 drunk driving wreck that left two dead and another permanently disabled.

Hopkins Icehouse bar and restaurant, the bar’s owners and Chad Caldwell are named in two suits filed in September by Texarkana lawyers Chad Trammell and Hawley Holman on behalf of the families of Tameka Pavon, 38, and Jercarlos Hawkins, 34. Pavon and Hawkins died when Caldwell ran a red light at the intersection of State Line Avenue and 14th Street in Texarkana, Texas, Sept. 29, 2013. A third passenger in the car Pavon was driving, Genaro Camacho, 28, suffered a brain injury from which he is unlikely to fully recover.

Caldwell, 36, plead guilty to two counts of intoxication manslaughter and one count of intoxication assault in Bowie County last year. He is presently serving a 20-year sentence.

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The civil suits allege Caldwell drank heavily at the Texarkana, Ark., bar before getting behind the wheel and causing the wreck in Texarkana, Texas. Both suits accuse Hopkins staff of doing nothing when an obviously drunk Caldwell stumbled out of the bar, keys in hand.

Layin’ Low Inc., doing business as Hopkins Icehouse, Geroge Dodson, David Jones and Mike Rogers filed responses to the two wrongful death complaints Nov. 13 generally denying the allegations. Chad Caldwell filed an answer in each case as well.

The Hopkins Icehouse defendant’s answer, filed by Texarkana lawyer Dennis Chambers, includes a cross complaint against Caldwell which places all blame on him. Caldwell’s answers side with the victims’ families in their contention that Hopkins should share liability for the crash.

Caldwell also claims that Pavon’s family accepted a $30,000 payout from his auto liability insurance carrier in February 2014 and signed a claims release at the same time which should bar them from suing him. Caldwell’s answer in Hawkins’ family’s suit states that the family accepted a $15,000 settlement offer Sept. 3 which it rescinded a week later in a letter that said Hawkins’ mother had “changed her mind.”

Miller County Circuit Judge Brent Haltom has not scheduled any hearings or made any rulings in the wrongful death cases. Caldwell’s criminal case is scheduled for its first parole review next month, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website.

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