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Hotel valet in Pismo handed drunk driver keys, lawsuit claims 

A Pismo Beach hotel and its employees are under fire, accused of handing the keys to a intoxicated patron who caused a drunk driving accident that injured a pedestrian and damaged multiple vehicles two years ago.

An attorney from the SLO-based Harris Personal Injury Law Firm filed a lawsuit against the Cliffs Resort in SLO County Superior Court Aug. 18, claiming that the hotel was negligent when one of its valet allowed a visibly drunk man access to his car before the accident, which occurred in September of 2014. A pedestrian injured in that accident is the plaintiff in the lawsuit, according to court documents.

According to the lawsuit, the incident occurred after the driver, a Nipomo man, handed his car keys to the hotel’s valet and asked them to withhold the keys from him if he became too drunk. The valet agreed, and the man proceeded to the hotel’s restaurant and bar, Marisol, where he was served “copious amounts of alcohol.” By the time he came out to get his vehicle, the man was obviously intoxicated—smelling of alcohol and “indiscriminately yelling profanities at bystanders, grabbing his genitals, … and gesturing with his middle finger,” the lawsuit stated. 

Despite his behavior, the lawsuit charges that the man was allowed to have his keys. He proceeded to drive, hitting seven parked cars in the parking lot and backing into and injuring a pedestrian, identified as Christian Wolf of Nipomo.

“The defendants … knew or should have known about the unreasonable risk of harm created by a known intoxicated driver on the property, and/or the unreasonable risk of harm created by allowing a known intoxicated person to operate a vehicle on the property,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit named the Cliffs; Marisol; the driver; and the hotel’s parent company, Boutique Hotel Collection Inc., as defendants. Boutique Hotel Collections did not respond to a request for comment from New Times.

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