(Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) May 08--PONTIAC -- The parents of a Pontiac police officer killed last year in the line of duty have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against three parties: the driver accused of hitting the officer, his employer and a Bloomington bar where he allegedly got drunk.
Livingston County court documents show Keri Schmidt and Jeff Kohlmeier have filed the lawsuit against Jason Collins of West Columbia, S.C.; Baran Telecom Inc., a Georgia telecommunications company that employed Collins; and GS Partners Inc., owners of Ride the Nine/Shooter's Lounge in Bloomington.
Collins is accused of aggravated driving under the influence and reckless homicide in connection with the Oct. 30, 2013, accident that killed Casey Kohlmeier, 29. The police officer died when his squad car was struck by Collins' pickup truck on Interstate 55, just north of Illinois 23 near Pontiac.
Collins remains in Macon County jail in Decatur in lieu of posting $100,000. His jury trial is set for Aug. 11.
The lawsuit asks for damages in excess of $50,000 and accuses Collins of operating a Ford F-250 pickup truck leased by Baran Telecom while under the influence of alcohol purchased at Shooter's.
Police say Collins was northbound on I-55 when he veered off the roadway and struck the police sport utility vehicle that was stationary in a turn-around access in the median. Also killed in the collision was Kohlmeier's K-9 partner, Draco.
The lawsuit further alleges Baran Telecom failed to properly investigate Collins' driving history that included a a previous conviction for DUI in New Jersey.
The complaint, filed in Livingston County Circuit Court, claims Baran Telecom breached its duty of reasonable care by hiring Collins, who was incompetent, unfit and dangerous because he allegedly operated a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol while transporting equipment to his next scheduled work location in Morris.
The lawsuit alleges Collins consumed alcoholic beverages over a period of five hours at Shooter's at 503 N. Prospect Road, Bloomington, causing his intoxication and leading to the accident.
A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for May 13 in circuit court.
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