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Woman sues Rick’s Cabaret, exotic dancer over son’s death

Houston- The way Mattie Jean Johnson sees it, her son died because Rick’s Cabaret encourages customers to buy drinks for dancers without providing the sometimes inebriated women safe transport home.

And on the morning of Dec. 31, one of those exotic dancers was drunk when she drove her Honda CRV on the North Freeway feeder, killing Johnson’s son, according to a lawsuit Johnson has filed against the popular strip club and the woman.

Clinton Washington was killed when he was calling for help for a motorist whose sport utility vehicle had rolled over, a witness told police. The cabdriver was 43.

Micaela Liem was charged with intoxicated manslaughter and is out on bail.

“I’d seen it on the news that night, but I didn’t believe it was him,” said a somewhat frail 61-year-old Johnson, holding a tissue as she spoke about her son on Tuesday. “Then my other son came to my house and told me … ”

Johnson said Washington was a giving man, he bought her a beeper so he could check on her. He’d make sure she was up and around, she recalled.

“If you needed something, he was there,” she said. Johnson said she wants justice for her son and she wants to see changes so this doesn’t happen to any one else’s son.

“Those dancers, they can leave out of there drunk with no supervision,” she said.

According to Johnson’s lawsuit, the dancer’s blood alcohol was .215, more than twice the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration.

Liem’s lawyer, Jeremy Foltz, said Tuesday he had no comment on the case. The criminal case against Liem is scheduled to be taken to a Harris County grand jury within the next few weeks, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said. The original complaint against her has an error in it — incorrectly naming a witness at the scene as the person she killed.

Rick’s lawyer, Robert Axelrod, and spokesman Allan Priaulx both said the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.

Johnson said her other children are very angry. She said Washington was born in Houston and spent most of his career working on landscaping and laying slabs as a subcontractor with his late father. He had been driving cabs for only a few years, she said.

According to a civil wrongful death lawsuit updated Tuesday by Johnson’s lawyer Hank Stout, Liem’s job duties at the Rick’s on North Sam Houston Parkway included that she was to get customers to buy her drinks and drink with them. A previously filed lawsuit was only against Liem. On Tuesday, Stout added the entertainment corporation.

“The more drinks the customers bought for the dancers, the more Rick’s would profit,” the lawsuit states. “The dancers’, including Liem’s, decision to consume alcohol while on the job was not voluntary. Rather, it was mandatory in order to continue successful employment at Rick’s.”

The lawsuit alleges Liem consumed large amounts of alcohol before she was instructed to go home the morning of Dec. 31. The lawsuit claims include negligence, gross negligence and wrongful death against both Liem and Rick’s. No specific amount of damages was requested.

The police report of the incident indicates an SUV rolled over on the North Freeway about 2 a.m. and Washington was the second person to stop to help.


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