A wealthy portfolio manager bought a $100,000-plus Porsche for his wife before she allegedly killed a man walking on a sidewalk with his first date in a drunken, high-speed crash “knowing she was an unfit driver” after she was overserved alcohol at several bars, the victims’ family alleges in a newly amended lawsuit.
Lawyers for the family of Joseph McMullin, 33, announced they amended a civil lawsuit filing against the allegedly intoxicated driver, Kristina Chambers, who faces a criminal charge of intoxicated manslaughter in the April 19 death. The amended petition includes Chambers’ husband, Xuan Si, and four bars Chambers allegedly visited that night – Lola’s Depot, The Eagle Houston, The Ripcord and JR’s Bar & Grill.
“In our continued pursuit of justice for Joseph McMullin, his family, and loved ones, we insist that any venue or individual that enabled, encouraged, contributed to, or participated in an alleged highly intoxicated Ms. Chambers getting behind the wheel be held fully accountable,” said Jesus Garcia, Jr., who represents McMullin’s family. “This was an unspeakable tragedy that could have been prevented by any number of factors that evening, all that would lead to Joseph continuing to live a happy and thriving life. It is believed that Ms. Chambers was overserved at these bars, a violation – in this case, fatal – of dram shop law, and that Mr. Si negligently entrusted the operation of the Porsche to his wife, knowing she was an unfit driver. While the grief of the McMullin family will never subside, we must act against all parties who bear responsibility to ensure a senseless tragedy like this never again occurs.”
Emails from Law&Crime seeking comments from Si and representatives for Lola’s Depot, The Ripcord and Eagle Houston were not immediately returned. JR’s Bar said they hadn’t been served with the lawsuit and declined to comment.
Chambers has denied the allegations. Her arraignment is set for June 29.
Mark Thiessen, Chambers’ criminal defense attorney, said he is investigating the road conditions where the crash occurred and is awaiting the accident report, the airbag control module, and the crash data recorder. He said he has received her blood tests, which he would not disclose, but said it is far below the District Attorney’s Office’s allegation that it was four times the legal limit.
“While we cannot disclose the actual alcohol concentration, it is necessary to correct the reprehensible acts of the DA’s office, who released unsubstantiated information in an attempt to taint the jury pool,” he said in a statement to Law&Crime.
Thiessen is not handling the civil lawsuit but said the entire case belongs in civil court.
“This is a civil case, not a criminal case,” Thiessen said. “Every crime is a tragedy, but not every tragedy is a crime. This is a tragic accident.”
McMullin was on a first date when he was killed on April 19. He and his date were walking to a doughnut shop on a sidewalk on Westheimer Road near Waugh when Chambers was driving her Porsche 911 Carrera S over 100 mph down Westheimer.
Chambers lost control, careened off the sidewalk and hit McMullin, police said.
Surveillance video shows the speeding Porsche striking the victim and throwing him into the air before the Porsche crashes into a pole, police said. Prosecutors say drugs, including cocaine, were found inside her vehicle. Chambers and two passengers in the Porsche were hospitalized before Chambers was arrested.
Chambers, the lawsuit alleged, was “extremely intoxicated, speeding, and not paying any attention to where she was driving.”
The four bars where Chambers allegedly drank alcohol before the crash were added to the lawsuit under the Dram Shop Act, which is part of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, alleging they “served, sold, or provided alcoholic beverages to a person who was obviously intoxicated to the extent that they presented a clear danger to themselves and others,” court documents said.
Chambers’ husband, Si, a wealthy portfolio manager at Balyasny Asset Management, a Chicago-based firm that manages over $15 billion in assets, purchased the $100,000-plus Porsche 911 Carrera S for her a few months before the crash, the lawsuit said.
“Indeed, Chambers was not employed and would not have the financial wherewithal to purchase such an ultra-expensive sportscar,” the lawsuit alleged. “Si entrusted the Porsche to Chambers and authorized her use of the vehicle for all purposes.”
The amended petition, filed Tuesday in Harris County District Court, is part of a $1 million lawsuit announced in May, alleging negligence, gross negligence and wrongful death.
Chambers was released from jail in April on a $50,000 bond, according to court records. She was ordered to remain home between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. seven days a week and can’t drink or use drugs, standard bond conditions, her lawyer said. She was ordered to wear an alcohol ankle monitor, which detects when alcohol is consumed.
Si filed for divorce on May 4, Houston Public Media reported.
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