Extensive media coverage about the May 17 Twin Peaks shootout has “damaged the Twin Peaks name in general” and has made it impossible to pick an impartial jury in McLennan County, a Twin Peaks motion to move a civil trial claims.
In response to a lawsuit filed in August by an unnamed Texas couple who were eating lunch at Twin Peaks when the violence erupted between rival biker groups, Twin Peaks asks 74th State Judge Gary Coley Jr. to move the lawsuit from McLennan County to Dallas County.
The lawsuit plaintiffs are identified only as M.K.H. and C.R.H. Their lawsuit names as defendants Peaktastic Beverage, Front Burner Restaurants, Twin Restaurant Investment Co. and Chalik Mitra Group.
Both of those restaurants have been closed since the Waco incident and the franchisees have been stripped of their association with Twin Peaks.
No hearing date for the motion has been set. A tentative trial date has been set for April 4, 2016.
The motion says that while there is a “large distinction” between the entities associated with the Twin Peaks franchisor and the franchisee that owned and operated the Waco restaurant, “all of the negative publicity has damaged the Twin Peaks name in general,” the motion states.
“Since the incident, thousands of articles have been written about the ‘Twin Peaks shootings,’ almost all of which are negative, or highly prejudicial,” the motion states. “The Waco Tribune alone has written approximately 221 articles related to the shooting since the incident occurred. Almost every headline includes the Twin Peaks name or refers to the incident as the ‘May 17 Twin Peaks shootout.’
“The residents of McLennan County are bombarded with a barrage of negative information regarding ‘Twin Peaks’ on a daily basis. In addition, the incident has put Waco at the center of an international spotlight that its residents find unflattering,” the motion states.
While Mark Goodman, a Dallas attorney who represents Twin Peaks, did not return phone messages Monday, the Twin Peaks corporate office in Addison issued a statement about the change of venue motion.
“Given the extensive, ongoing media coverage in Waco about this tragedy, we believe it would be easier to find impartial jurors outside the local area,” the statement said.
The suit, filed on the plaintiffs’ behalf by Waco attorney Hamilton Lindley, seeks unspecified damages for medical care for injuries suffered during the incident, physical pain and suffering, loss of earnings and mental anguish.
Lindley declined comment on the change of venue motion.
“In defiance of repeated law enforcement warnings, Twin Peaks invited rival biker gangs to its Waco restaurant on May 17, 2015,” the lawsuit says. “Predictably, these rival gangs — fueled by Twin Peaks alcohol — began fighting.”
The plaintiffs, who are not affiliated with a biker group, according to the lawsuit, were having lunch there when the shooting started.
“When the bullets began flying, plaintiffs were trapped inside defendants’ property and forced to find cover to avoid being shot,” the suit alleges. “Plaintiffs suffered personal injuries, including cuts, bruises and abrasions. Plaintiffs also suffered damage to their personal property and significant emotional trauma.”