Crime & Public Safety

Hilton Head bar overserved ‘visibly intoxicated’ driver before deadly DUI crash, lawsuit says

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Almost nine months after a 27-year-old Hilton Head man died in a DUI-related crash, the driver of the car, the bar that served the driver alcohol, and the restaurant group that owns the bar are being sued for wrongful death.

Tyler Lichtman died on July 29 after he was ejected from a car being driven by Brandon Eric Biggins of Hilton Head, according to previous reporting.

Biggins —who was charged with felony DUI — was driving a 1994 Mercedes on Arrow Road about 1:20 a.m. when it ran off the right side of the road, S.C. Highway Patrol said at the time. Lichtman died from his injuries at the scene.

Biggins is still awaiting trial for the DUI charge, according to Beaufort County court documents.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday by Linda Browne and Ray Lichtman says four hours after the crash, Biggin’s blood alcohol concentration was .16.

The lawsuit alleges Lichtman and Biggins were at the Black Marlin Bayside Grill & Hurricane Bar before the crash and Bayside Grill, Black Marlin, and SERG Restaurant Group employees “continued to serve alcoholic beverages to Defendant Biggins while he was visibly and noticeably intoxicated.”

Biggins was staggering and slurring his words, the lawsuit says.

The businesses did not have adequate practices, policies, and/or procedures to prevent “visibly intoxicated patrons” from being served alcohol and to help them “secure a safe ride home,” the suit says. It also alleges the employees were not properly trained in the “responsible and safe service of alcohol.”

The lawsuit alleges Biggins, Bayside, Black Marlin, and SERG broke South Carolina law and were negligent.

Because of Lichtman’s death, the lawsuit says the plaintiffs suffered “both economic and non-economic losses, emotional distress, and other compensable damages.” They are suing for the “amount of actual and punitive damages” exceeding $25,000, the cost of the lawsuit, and “further relief as may be just and proper.”

SERG is the largest employer on Hilton Head. It also just purchased three more restaurants.

Lana Ferguson has covered crime, police, and other news for The Island Packet & Beaufort Gazette since June 2018. Before coming to the Lowcountry, she worked for publications in her home state of Virginia and graduated from the University of Mississippi, where she was editor of the college’s daily newspaper.