The family of Jose Munoz, who was shot at a Louisville Olive Garden, talk about their brother Wednesday. Feb. 27, 2019
The family of Jose Munoz, who was shot and killed last year at an Olive Garden off Outer Loop, has filed a lawsuit against the restaurant chain and the Louisville man charged with Munoz’s murder, making claims of wrongful death and negligence.
Donna Munoz, the sister-in-law of Jose Munoz and administrator of his estate, and the conservator of the victim’s son filed the Feb. 21 lawsuit in Jefferson Circuit Court against Olive Garden, its corporate affiliates and Devone Briggs.
The lawsuit’s filing came almost one year after the Feb. 23, 2019, incident in which Briggs, 31, allegedly shot Munoz following an argument inside of the lobby of the Olive Garden, 4811 Outer Loop.
Munoz, 25, of Sellersburg, Indiana, died later that night at a hospital.
Briggs was later charged and indicted on one count of of murder and seven counts of wanton endangerment. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been on house arrest while awaiting a jury trial scheduled for July.
Earlier: Family of man killed in Olive Garden shooting puts ‘a face to the victim’
Besides wrongful death claims, the lawsuit accuses Olive Garden and its affiliates — FCPT Restaurant Properties LLC and GMRI Inc. — of negligence and gross negligence in failing to take steps to keep its patrons safe.
The lawsuit makes similar wrongful death claims against Briggs.
The suit also states that Munoz’s son, who lives in Mexico, has “lost that love, companionship services and general consortium of his father.”
Munoz’s family said last year following the shooting that Munoz had been living with family in Sellersburg for more than six years and working for a concrete company to support his 6-year-old son.
Munoz’s son was 6 months old the last time he saw his father, according to family.
A lawsuit represents only one side of a case.
A corporate spokesperson for Olive Garden did not immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment.
Ethan T. Manning and Chris Meinhart, the attorneys representing the Munoz estate, sent a statement to The Courier Journal: “This unspeakable and preventable tragedy continues to sadden us and we are driven to get justice for Jose and his surviving child.”
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The lawsuit asks for unspecified damages to compensate Munoz’s estate and his son.
According to court testimony, Munoz and Briggs confronted each other inside of the crowded lobby that evening as part of an argument over a 4-year-old in Munoz’s group repeatedly bumping into Briggs.
Munoz was eventually pushed by Briggs after stepping in front of him, and when Munoz pushed Briggs back, Briggs shot him, according to police.
Munoz’s family has claimed he was trying to diffuse the situation and has called the shooting a hate crime, saying that Briggs had made racist comments about the Mexican heritage of Munoz and his group that night.
But Briggs’ attorney, Rob Eggert, has argued that his client — who had a concealed carry license — was acting in self-defense.
A patron who was inside the Olive Garden last year during the shooting also filed a lawsuit against the restaurant in January, claiming she was injured while trying to escape through a “defective” emergency door.
On Sunday, Munoz’s family members held a rally at the Chestnut Street YMCA in Louisville to remember their loved one as well as to call for an end to violence around the city.
Previously: Man was killed at Olive Garden because he was Mexican, family says
Reach Billy Kobin at [email protected] or 502-582-7030. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/subscribe.
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