Nicholas Immesberger worked as a bartender at Tiger Woods’ flagship restaurant called “The Woods” in Jupiter, Florida, before he died in a drunk-driving accident on December 10, 2018. He was 24 years old. His parents sued Woods, his girlfriend Erica Herman and the company for their son’s death.
But as of June 24, 2019, Tiger Woods is no longer listed as a defendant, according to the pro golfer’s legal team. Woods’ attorney, Barry Postman, told ESPN, “The decision was clearly appropriate and reflected the fact that Mr. Woods should not have been included in the lawsuit in the first place because he had nothing to do with Mr. Immesberger’s death.” The lawsuit againt Herman and the company continues.
Immesberger’s parents, Scott Duchene and Mary Catherine Belowsky, say that Woods and Herman, who is the general manager of the restaurant, were aware that Immesberger struggled with alcohol addiction. They filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that on the day of Immesberger’s death, employees and management of the “Woods” served Immesberger so much alcohol that his blood alcohol content spiked to more than three times the legal limit, and then was allowed to drive home.
The lawsuit alleges that the staff and management knew that Immesberger was trying to control his addiction and had been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. It claims that Woods and Herman had drinks with Immesberger a few days before his death, despite knowing about his addiction.
Immesberger crashed his car about 20 miles away from the restaurant and suffered fatal injuries after drinking for about three hours at the “Woods.” Neither Woods nor Herman has publicly commented on the lawsuit.
The family held a press conference during the morning of May 14, which you can watch in its entirety below. Their attorney accused the “Woods” of intentionally destroying video evidence that showed Immesberger drinking at the restaurant on the day of his death, and that the lawsuit was filed in order to prevent the destruction of further evidence.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Nicholas Immesberger Was a New Jersey Native & Had Planned to Become a Firefighter
Nicholas Immesberger was born and raised in Bradley Beach, New Jersey. He moved to Florida with his family and graduated high school from the Berean Christian School in West Palm Beach in 2012. Immesberger also attended Palm Beach State College and also took classes through Bridgewater College, according to his Facebook page.
Immesberger was working as a bartender at the “Woods” at the time of his death. But he aspired to become a firefighter. His family says that Immesberger had planned to start EMT school in January of 2019. They wrote in the obituary that Immesberger “was known for his huge heart, humorous personality, and his unforgettable laugh. He loved his family, his friends, the Patriots, and especially loved his dogs, Frank and Kona.”
Immesberger was survived by his parents, a stepfather, two brothers and two sisters. He also left behind a girlfriend named Ashley Lannon, according to his Facebook page. The obituary also touches on past tragedies suffered by the family; Immesberger had two other sisters and a brother who preceded him in death.
2. The Lawsuit Alleges That the ‘Woods’ Staff Overserved Nicholas Immesberger to the Point of Extreme Intoxication, Despite Knowing About His Alcohol Addiction; Immesberger Worked There as a Bartender
Nicholas Immesberger had worked at the “Woods” for about a year prior to his death on December 10, 2018. According to the lawsuit, filed in the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in West Palm Beach, Florida, Erica Herman knew Immesberger personally and had recruited him to work there. Immesberger’s parents allege in the lawsuit that Herman had been aware of his alcohol addiction. But the lawsuit does not provide specific details about how or what Herman knew about Immesberger’s struggles.
According to the lawsuit, Immesberger finished his shift as a bartender at 3 p.m. on December 10. He stayed at the bar for about three hours and was served alcohol. His coworkers allegedly knew that he had been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and was trying to battle the addiction. But he drank so much that his blood alcohol content reached .256, which is more than three times the legal limit. A “Woods” employee reportedly said afterward that Immesberger strongly smelled of alcohol before he left the bar on the night of the crash.
Immesberger drove away from the restaurant in his Corvette. He lost control about 20 miles away. According to a police report cited by CNN, Immesberger was driving 70 mph in a 55 mph area. The lawsuit explains, “his vehicle traveled across the northbound lanes of SE Federal Highway in a northeasterly direction while rotating clockwise, traveled across the paved shoulder of the roadway onto the eastern grass divider, continued down the grass embankment and up a culvert, became airborne, and upon landing, impacted a sign and utility trailer, before coming to rest on its right side.” Immesberger was pronounced dead at the scene.
3. Immesberger’s Parents Allege That Tiger Woods & Erica Herman Drank With Their Son a Few Days Before His Death & That the Company Encourages Drinking Among Staff Members
Erica Herman and Tiger Woods knew that Nicholas Immesberger had a drinking problem, according to the wrongful death lawsuit filed by his parents. Scott Duchene and Mary Catherine Belowsky, Immesberger’s parents, claim that the professional athlete and his girlfriend had socialized with their son a few days before his death, and had consumed alcohol with him. The family attorney stated during the May 14 press conference that on that night, Immesberger had to be picked up by his sister because he could barely walk, and knocked over a tray of glasses as they left the bar. The attorney says this is further evidence that Woods and Herman knew about his alcohol addiction.
The lawsuit includes the accusation that the “Woods” management encouraged its staff members to drink alcohol, and that drinking was allowed even during shifts. It mentions that Immesberger had to be helped out of the bar on numerous occassions by friends and family members after having too much to drink.
Immesberger’s parents claimed that Tiger Woods and Erica Herman are liable for their son’s death because restaurant owners and managers are responsible for ensuring that customers and employees are not overserved. The lawsuit reads in part that Woods, Herman and company employees “knew, or reasonably should have known, that Immesberger was habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages, and/or was a habitual drunkard.”
4. Lawsuit: Nicholas Immesberger Was Involved in Another Car Crash Just One Month Prior to His Death; His Girlfriend Had Asked Restaurant Staffers to Stop Serving Immesberger Alcohol
Nicholas Immesberger had crashed his vehicle just a few weeks before the deadly accident on December 10, 2018. According to his parents’ lawsuit, “employees and management at ‘The Woods’ were further aware that Immesberger had previously crashed another vehicle just one month before his fatal crash again while driving home after employees and/or management at ‘The Woods’ had over-served him alcohol while he was battling the disease of alcoholism.”
The lawsuit adds that a close friend of Immesberger’s tried to intervene by asking other staffers at the “Woods” to stop giving Immesberger alcohol. The lawsuit does not name that person, but during the May 14 press conference, the family attorney said it was Immesberger’s girlfriend, who also worked at the bar.
The lawsuit does not mention whether Immesberger served himself alcohol while working as a bartender or whether any steps were taken to discourage him from doing so.
5. Nicholas Immesberger’s Parents Are Suing For More Than $15,000 in Damages
Nicholas Immesberger’s parents, Scott Duchene and Mary Catherine Belowsky, asked for damages in excess of $15,000 from Tiger Woods, Erica Herman, and the “Woods” company. They are also asking for court costs to be covered and demand a trial by jury.
The lawsuit explains that the family has “suffered the loss of the Deceden’t support and services and his companionship and society; have experienced mental pain and suffering; and have sustained the loss of the Decedent’s probable net income and net accumulations and household services, and medical and funeral expenses due to the Decedent’s injury and death.”