Henry’s of Cayce, set to close, hit with lawsuit related to DUI deaths

Posted 1/17/24

The Cayce bar and restaurant is set to close later this month, citing the state’s escalating liquor liability costs.

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Henry’s of Cayce, set to close, hit with lawsuit related to DUI deaths


A Cayce bar and restaurant that is set to close later this month, citing the state’s escalating liquor liability costs, has been hit with wrongful death, survival and negligence claims in a lawsuit related to two people killed in West Columbia last year by a man alleged to have been driving under the influence.

Henry’s of Cayce, an outpost of the soon-to-be two-strong local chain of neighborhood eateries/watering holes, was hit with a lawsuit on behalf of Cornelius Alexander Clory, 68, and Leeya Janae Leaverette, 17, who were killed in the Sept. 15 accident, and Gladys Clory, who was injured in the crash.

The lawsuit alleges that the occupants of the car that struck them, Hunter Meetze and Joshua Yarborough, the alleged driver, “stayed ... less than one hour” at Henry’s of Cayce “but were served an excessive number of alcoholic beverages.”

Per Lexington County court records, the lawsuit was filed Jan. 3, four days before Henry’s of Cayce announced its impending closure, set to come by the end of the month.

The restaurant didn’t immediately reply to the Chronicle’s request for comment.

The lawsuit alleges that Yarborough, whose criminal charges for two counts of DUI resulting in death and a single count of hit and run are still pending, and Meetze left Henry’s and rear-ended a gray Chevrolet Suburban on 12th Street in West Columbia near C Avenue, causing only minor damage and no injuries.

In rushing to flee that scene, the allegations continue, Yarborough crashed into the rear of a Hyundai sedan stopped at a red light at the intersection of 12th Street and B Avenue at a high rate of speed, pushing the car carrying the Clorys and Leaverette and slamming it “directly into a utility pole approximately 100 feet from the initial impact, causing catastrophic damage.”

“The sedan was pushed forward from the rear and the utility poll [sic] struck the front center of the sedan,” the complaint continues. “It took more than two full seconds for Mr. Yarborough’s vehicle to push the sedan across the intersection and into the utility pole. During that time, the occupants of the sedan saw the utility pole speeding straight at them and experienced knowledge and fear of their own imminent deaths.”

The lawsuit and the impending closure of Henry’s of Cayce come as the state is reckoning with skyrocketing liquor liability costs that multiple bar owners say may force hard choises, including closing altogether. With the state Legislature back in session, fixing the issue is a hot topic.

“Due to the increased Liquor Liability Insurance we cannot continue to operate,” Henry’s said in announcing its closure.

They’re not alone in decrying the costs.

Josh Bumgarner, co-owner of Columbia’s Transmission Arcade, told the Chronicle that his yearly insurance premium increased from $7,000 in 2020 to nearly $65,000 when he renewed his policy in 2023.

Phill Blair, owner of West Columbia’s WECO Bottle and Biergarten, told the paper recently that if its insurance costs continue to rise, it could be forced to close, explaining that its policy increased about 300% when it renewed it in October.

“Not only do we have zero claims here… We don't even serve liquor and most of our stuff is to go,” Blair said. “I can't think of the reason why it would triple in one year with no incidents whatsoever, other than it's what's happening to everyone.”

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