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Woman sues Athens bar, UGA students for son’s drunk-driving death

Michael Kitchen

By Joe Johnson

A bar in downtown Athens and four University of Georgia students have been sued by a woman whose son was killed by a drunk driver.

Michael Jerrell Kitchen, 34, was fatally struck by a car on West Broad Street early the morning of April 30.

The driver left the scene without ever stopping, police said, and when he was later located the 21-year-old University of Georgia student admitted that he’d been drinking at the Cloud Athens nightclub on East Clayton Street.

Benhur Tafai was arrested for DUI, first-degree homicide by vehicle, and leaving the scene of an accident with serious injury.

Filed May 28 in Clarke County Superior Court, the lawsuit names as defendants Tesfai and three other UGA students who had been passengers in his car. They are liable for negligence for failing to “intervene, obstruct, or otherwise prohibit” Tesfai from driving, the lawsuit alleges.

Benhur Tesfai

Cloud Athens has been sued because its bartenders or servers allegedly were aware that Tesfai was intoxicated and would be driving upon leaving the nightclub,

The lawsuit seeks a trial and judgement in the monetary value of Kitchen’s life to be established plus punitive damages in an amount to be determined by the jury.

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