Hookah Bar Sued for Serving Minor Involved in Fatal Accident | Business

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Hookah Bar Sued for Serving Minor Involved in Fatal Accident
Hookah Bar Sued for Serving Minor Involved in Fatal Accident

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Ali Baba, a Jacksonville hookah bar, is being sued for serving an underage drinker who was involved in fatal car accident.

The crash happened just after midnight November 14, 2010.  Maida Sy, 19, had a 12:30 a.m. curfew.  Maida was on her way home and only minutes away when her car was hit, and she was killed.

Police arrested 20-year-old Robert Tofson.  He is charged with DUI and vehicular homicide.   

"Somebody knock(ed) on our door at four o'clock in the morning and the horrible thing is it's the policeman," said Nida Sy, Maida's mother.

Sy said her daughter was her best friend.  She said the 2010 Sandalwood High School graduate had big plans for her life.  She was studying to be a pharmacist.

An FHP investigative report notes that Tofson's blood alcohol level was .204.  "Why you would serve an underage alcoholic to the extent he's almost three times the legal limit. That is shocking," said Sy family attorney, Charles Sorenson.

Sorenson said Tofson, a US Navy sailor, had just gotten out of rehab and was drinking at the Ali Baba Hookah bar minutes before the crash.

"If they had obeyed the law and not served an underage alcoholic drinker this accident would have never happened," said Sorenson.

Tofson's attorney, Fred Gazaleh, told First Coast News his underage client drank at the bar numerous times.

Sorenson said they have witnesses that back up that statement,  "The bar has a reputation for serving underage people," said Sorenson.

Sorenson points to Facebook postings his staff found.  One posting reads, "I hear you don't need to be 21 to drink here."

"The postings were numerous of, you want to drink and underage this is a place that will serve you," said Sorenson.

The bar's manager wasn't on site on Thursday.  First Coast News spoke to him by phone.  When asked if the bar serves underage patrons, the manager, named JJ, told us he couldn't talk to us.

"I'm just praying to God that my daughter can save somebody's life," said Nida Sy.

In a way her daughter already has.  Her parents learned their daughter was an organ donor and one her lungs is now helping someone to live.

"The person already told me that she has a very wonderful life because of my daughter's organ," said Sy.

Tofson's criminal case is pending.  His attorney said Tofson is working with Maida's family and that Tofson plans to testify and tell what happened that night when the civil case goes to trial.

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