ST. LOUIS • Two people who were among the approximately 100 injured and one killed in the April 28 storm accident at Kilroy’s Sports Bar filed lawsuits today against the pub and the company that leased and installed a tent that collapsed.
They appear to be the first court claims stemming from the incident, in which heavy wind gusts — estimated at up to 50 mph — lifted a party tent at the bar from its moorings and pushed it against a railroad trestle, sending heavy, metal posts flying.
City rules require that tents covering at least 1,000 square feet for public use be strong enough for a 90 mph wind.
Alfred Goodman, 58, of Waterloo, suffered head and neck injuries and was pronounced dead at St. Louis University Hospital.
The plaintiffs in separate suits filed in St. Louis Circuit Court are Janet Martinez, 45, and Kurt Volk, 25, both of St. Louis. Martinez claims severe injuries, including a fractured cervical spine. Volk claims his left shoulder was fractured and his shoulder joint was separated.
The suits allege that Kilroy’s, at 720 South Seventh Street, was negligent on a number of fronts, including failure to ensure the safety of the tent and by failure to close off the tent area despite forecasts for severe thunderstorms. They claim that Sun Rental Inc., of Bridgeton, failed to properly anchor the tent or warn Kilroy’s of its limitations, among other things.
Art Randall, the owner of Kilroy’s, said he was not surprised to be sued. “A severe act of nature occurred and it’s torn my whole family up and definitely hurt a lot of other families too,” he said. “I can’t express the extreme distress that everybody involved in this feels.”
Ron O’Connor, a spokesperson for Sun Rental, declined to comment.
Kilroy’s had remained closed until Friday, when Randall said he re-opened it with a heavy heart, finding it hard to bring back the usual celebratory atmosphere.
The sports bar near Busch Stadium had been filled with a couple hundred people who were celebrating a Cardinals’ win when the storm hit. A lively scene quickly turned grisly, as people in their baseball gear were hauled off in ambulances and sat holding bandages over their heads.
By the next week, Kilroy’s owner, Art Randall, was questioning whether the tent was as sturdy as it should have been, although he praised Sun Rentals as being established and respected.
City Public Safety Director Eddie Roth called for changes to safety regulations that would require evacuations of large public tents during warnings of severe weather.
Kilroy’s had obtained a city permit for the tent April 11. But city officials noted that their inspectors have no way to test a tent for structural strength to make sure it can withstand 90 mph winds, an industry standard cited in the local ordinance.
Roth is still awaiting a report from fire and building inspectors to learn more from the incident.