Family of former UT soccer player takes stand against downtown nightclubs

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The family of former UT soccer player Kylie Doniak is taking a stand against the individuals they feel are responsible for over-serving the drunk driver who hit Doniak back in February, turning her into what the lawsuit calls “a young child trapped in a 22-year-old’s body.”

Kylie’s parents, Lori and Dave Doniak, filed suit on Kylie’s behalf in Travis County Court earlier this month against the downtown nightclub Vice and its parent company, Ckan Inc., and the now-closed downtown nightclub Fuel and its former parent company Yassine Enterprises. Suzanne Kaplan, attorney for the Doniak family, said the family hopes to recover funds to pay for the extensive medical care Kylie continues to need after the crash. The family is not suing drunk driver Nicolas Colunga at this time.

Kaplan said the lawsuit will send a message to other local bars about the dangers of over-serving customers. The suit alleges Colunga, 22, had between 15 and 20 beers the night he hit Kylie, most of which he drank within two hours of the accident at the nightclubs Vice and Fuel.

“They are hoping to get some financial assistance in covering what it is going to cost to care for Kylie,” she said. “Right now, she needs almost around-the-clock care. She is still living at home receiving extensive rehab, and she will still need continuing therapy for an indefinite amount of time.”

Yassine Enterprises became the subject of federal investigation involving illegal drug, weapon and money laundering activity in 2007, which resulted in the arrest of former company owner Mike Yassine and nine other individuals last spring. The Texas Comptroller’s office took possession of six Yassine Enterprises establishments downtown, including Fuel, in April.

The suit asks for unspecified damages and a trial by jury. It says Kylie “will never be the same” as a result of the accident.

According to the suit, Colunga arrived at Fuel Feb. 2 at approximately 11:30 p.m. after having already consumed several beers. He then proceeded to drink five to seven beers at Fuel during the next 30 to 45 minutes, showing “obvious signs of intoxication” while he was there. Next, Colunga continued on to Vice, arriving at approximately 12:15 a.m. There, he consumed four to five drinks before returning to Fuel where he was served several more beers.

The suit alleges that Fuel employees brought a bucket to Colunga’s table to watch him vomit and then allowed him to order more drinks. Colunga then got behind the wheel of his 2008 Chevy Impala and ran a red light while proceeding west on East Eighth Street at San Jacinto Boulevard. The Impala “slammed into Kylie” and hit two of her friends. Colunga then crashed his car and was restrained by a witness until police arrived.

Roger Wade, Travis County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, said Colunga is currently in jail and awaiting trial on four separate felonies, including intoxicated assault and failure to stop and render aid, and a Class B Misdemeanor.

Jonathan Insley, co-owner of Old School Bar & Grill on Sixth Street, said he is shocked that Colunga was served so much alcohol and said that would never allow that to happen at his bar.

“We have a zero-tolerance for it, and it’s just crazy that this happened,” he said. “What is it worth, you know, for what? It is just not worth it. You just have to follow the law when it comes to that.”

Carolyn Beck, a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission spokesperson, said an investigation into both Vice and Fuel by the TABC had been suspended for lack of evidence but could be reopened if new evidence is presented in the lawsuit or discovered elsewhere.

Beck said if found in violation of TABC policy, those responsible for over-serving Colunga could lose their TABC permits, could be fined and face criminal charges with a penalty of jail time.

Printed on Thursday, August 30, 2012 as: Doniak's family sues nightclubs for over-serving