Lawsuit possible against bar where suspected DUI driver worked

Witnesses say Joshua Lovingood was drinking on the job before deadly crash

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – The lawyer for a man injured in a deadly crash in Jacksonville Beach is exploring a possible civil lawsuit against the bar where the suspected drunk driver worked. 

Jacksonville Beach Police estimate that 32-year-old Joshua Lovingood was going about 70 mph in a 25 mph zone when he hit two pedestrians walking along 2nd Street in July. Bryn Turner, 22, died at the scene. His friend, 28-year-old Julio Gomez, was seriously hurt.

Lovingood, who had a blood alcohol level of .223, according to police, turned himself in on DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide charges in Ohio this week.

Some people believe the bar he worked at also had a role in the crash.

Police said that Lovingood was working as a bartender at Ruby Beach Brewing in Jacksonville Beach the night of the crash, just a few blocks away from where the two men were hit. According to an arrest warrant, Lovingood drank "several alcoholic beverages with customers" while at work.

As prosecutors work the criminal case against Lovingood, civil attorneys have their own probe.

Attorney Josh Woolsey represents Gomez.

“We’re going to be asking questions about the bar where he worked,” Woolsey said. “What happened that night? Has he become intoxicated? What are the employment practices of this establishment? And we think that we may find that this was preventable on several grounds and it’s not just the driver who may bear some responsibility for what happened.”

The I-TEAM also found that Lovingood had a history of problems, including two DUI arrests, but he was only convicted once. He also had a long list of traffic issues including a revoked driver’s license in 2015. Those could be factors in possible cases against his employer in the future, according to Woolsey.

“I think bars and restaurants need to make sure they’re looking into those things and they have proper employment practices in place,” Woolsey said.

News4Jax contacted the manager of Ruby Beach Brewing on Thursday afternoon requesting comment, but the manager said “we have nothing to say to you,” and hung up the phone.

Lovingood will soon be extradited to Duval County. If convicted, he faces around 17 years in prison.

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