Mother sues bar after daughter's death: 'They knew she was underage'
PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Five months after an Ewa Beach teen died of a suspected drug and alcohol overdose, her mother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the bar allegedly involved.
Police say Kylee Lawelawe, 17, collapsed outside Boujie Bar and Grill in Pearl City on the night of May 12 and was rushed to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The family's attorney says the owners of the bar contributed to her death by breaching their duty not to serve alcohol to minors.
"It wasn't a case of a kid going in there and using a false ID or any reasonable doubt this person was underage," said attorney Eric Seitz. "The combination of alcohol and drugs is what killed her."
The lawsuit filed on Oct. 5 states the owners of the bar acted with gross negligence and intentionally disregarded the teen's safety and well-being, "thereby proximately and directly causing Kylee Lawelawe's death."
"We did our own investigation and we were able to find some people who were there," said Seitz.
"We were able to identify those people in the circumstances in which this occurred and from our preliminary investigation, it just looks terrible. Apparently, they knew she was underage and she'd been in there before. They served her before and they went and did it on this occasion and it was tragic."
The Honolulu Liquor Commission says it found no prior violations against the bar.
The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs website still lists the business as active, but neighboring tenants said it shut its doors immediately after the incident and that the owners have been difficult to locate.
"It's been more mellow and people feel a lot more safer," said Manuel Poche.
Poche is the parking lot attendant at Pearl City Plaza.
He says the bar frequently attracted suspicious activity and people are relieved it's now closed.
"They thank God the bar is gone and me too, because it was really rough when the bar was open," Poche said.
Lawelawe was just days away from graduating high school.
Her mother tells Hawaii News Now that moving forward has been an emotional and challenging journey.
She's hoping the bar owners will step up and take responsibility.
"We're hoping they'll come forward and work with us and we can make this a matter of negotiation between us and the insurance company, but if they don't cooperate, then they are going to have some serious problems," said Seitz.
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