08:44, February 06 189 0 abajournal.com

2019-02-06 08:44:05
BigLaw partner files $20M suit claiming rape by bartender


A partner at a large international law firm in Houston has filed a $20 million suit claiming a bartender at Brennan’s of Houston spiked her drink with a drug and later raped her at her home.

The woman and her law firm are not identified in the lawsuit. The suit says the bartender, Sean Kerrigan, was aided and abetted by a restaurant manager who accompanied Kerrigan to the plaintiff’s home. The Texas Lawyer, Houstonia magazine, KPRC, the New Orleans Time-Picayune and KTRK have coverage.

Kerrigan, who died in November, was criminally charged last July with raping the plaintiff and another woman in a later assault. Kerrigan and the manager were both fired after the October 2015 incident.

The plaintiff told the Texas Lawyer that she went back to work after the rape because “women keep going, successful lawyers keep going.” She finally took a medical leave from her firm last August after experiencing nightmares and insomnia that made it difficult to concentrate.

The woman is being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the lawsuit. She told the Texas Lawyer that she should have been eligible to promotion to an equity partnership, but she hasn’t been able to do the marketing.

“My ability to maintain relationships is extremely difficult,” she said. “Building new ones is almost impossible.”

The suit says the plaintiff had gone to Brennan’s of Houston on the evening of Oct. 19, 2015, with a male colleague, who left about an hour and a half later. The plaintiff stayed to eat dinner and sat at the bar.

Kerrigan had claimed that he accidentally spilled the plaintiff’s drink. He replaced it with a new drink that was spiked with a drug, the suit says. The plaintiff had little memory of the rest of the evening.

Surveillance video shows the plaintiff being led out of the restaurant by a Brennan’s of Houston manager and a female associate, while another Brennan’s of Houston manager looked on and did nothing to intervene, the suit says.

The manager went with Kerrigan and the plaintiff to a different bar, police later learned. The plaintiff does not remember it.

The plaintiff’s next memory is awakening at her home while Kerrigan raped her, the suit says. She drifted in and out of consciousness and awoke the next morning when Kerrigan and the manager pulled the covers off her. She later learned the men had stolen prescription medication and money from her purse, the suit says.

A hospital assessment found “significant vaginal injuries consistent with rape.”

The suit seeks damages for sexual assault and battery, aiding and abetting sexual assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, premises liability, negligence and respondeat superior.

Brennan’s of Houston said in a statement that it was shocked and appalled by the plaintiff’s allegations. “While we condemn what she states happened to her in the strongest terms, we strenuously dispute any allegation that Brennan’s or [its owner] is somehow responsible for the actions of individuals off work and off premises,” the statement said.

The restaurant said it cooperated with prosecutors, and the plaintiff previously had told the restaurant that it was not at fault.

A lawyer for the plaintiff, Peter Taaffe of the Buzbee Law Firm in Houston, told the Texas Lawyer that the plaintiff decided to sue after viewing the surveillance video and learning the restaurant had made “numerous misrepresentations” to her about who was there on the night in question.