Nov. 15, 2008: Friends are no longer being sued over drinking death

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 24, 2009 - 9:00 AM

Only one defendant -- the now-defunct Mankato bar where an already-inebriated Amanda Jax was served more alcohol -- remains in the lawsuit brought by her family.

Amanda Lea Jax

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Only one defendant remains in the lawsuit brought by the family of Amanda Jax, the Twin Cities woman whose extreme drunkenness killed her after a night out with college-age friends to celebrate her 21st birthday.

The attorney for Jax's family said Friday that four of the friends who were with Jax on Oct. 29, 2007, in a Mankato bar are no longer defendants in the wrongful-death lawsuit filed in Blue Earth County. The four are: Kathryn A. Lensing of Rochester; Richard T. Johnson of Mankato; Jonathan R. McIntyre of St. Paul; and Per David Kvalsten of Durbin, N.D.

The lone defendant is the now-defunct Sidelines Bar and Grill, where Jax and her friends were drinking.

A fifth friend, Hannah Becker, of Monticello, Minn., also has had claims dismissed against her but in a separate arrangement. Lensing, Johnson, McIntyre and Kvalsten have agreed not to speak publicly about the case. Becker and her attorney, Mark Solheim, are not bound by such a restriction.

"Plaintiffs brought this litigation against the friends of Ms. Jax in order to learn more about the events leading up to Ms. Jax's death and in an effort to address the problem of binge drinking by college-age students," Chad Schulze, the attorney for Jax's family said in a news release Friday. However, he said, the plaintiffs have determined that it's not in the best interests of any of the parties to pursue the claims against some of her friends.

On the evening before Jax's alcohol-poisoning death, the friends bought her one drink after another in less than two hours at the bar. She was taken back to Becker's apartment, where she died the next day.

An autopsy found Jax's blood-alcohol content was nearly 0.46 percent, nearly six times the level used to determine drunkenness in drunken-driving cases.

In its claims against the bar, the suit says bartender Beau Ryan ignored "Amanda's obvious state of intoxication."

The bar owners, Craig and Adam Blattner, have denied the allegations. The suit seeks damages in excess of $50,000.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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