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Verdicts & Settlements

Brennan’s of Houston Settles Attorney’s Sexual Assault Lawsuit

— November 17, 2020

Houston eatery settles attorney’s sexual assault lawsuit.

After a year-long court battle with an attorney who alleged a former Brennan’s employee sexually assaulted her, the Houston restaurant has reached a settlement with the plaintiff.  The amount of the settlement remains undisclosed, but the case has officially been dismissed in the Harris County District Court following a motion by the plaintiff.  The original amount pursued was $20 million.

The lawsuit was originally filed in January 2019 by an anonymous female initially identified as Jane Doe in court papers.  It alleged a “former Brennan’s bartender Sean Kerrigan drugged the plaintiff while she dined at the restaurant, then took Jane Doe to her home and repeatedly assaulted her over the course of several hours.”  The suit also contends, “Kerrigan stole prescription drugs and other items” from the home.  Later, amid litigation, the plaintiff publicly came forward and identified herself as attorney Jessica Crutcher.

Brennan's of Houston Settles Attorney's Sexual Assault Lawsuit
Photo by Cosmo Wei on Unsplash

Kerrigan was indicted on charges of felony sexual assault but passed away last year.  A second former employee, manager Chris Lockhart, was also named in court records.  Lockhart was allegedly seen on surveillance video helping Kerrigan take Crutcher out of the eatery.

Brennan’s of Houston initially denied any liability.  However, the company did not dispute that the assault happened.  In an official statement, the company responded in part, “For more than 50 years, Brennan’s core values of care, service and respect for our guests, employees and partners has guided the culture of our family business.  As such, we were shocked and appalled when a patron currently named as ‘Jane Doe’ alleged, in October 2015, that two of our employees had assaulted her in her home.  The employees were terminated in part because of the allegation.  While we condemn what she states happened to her in the strongest terms, we strenuously dispute any allegation that Brennan’s or Mr. Brennan-Martin (proprietor) is somehow responsible for the actions of individuals off work and off premises…In 2017, Ms. Doe informed Brennan’s management via email that she would be pressing charges against one of the employees and asked Brennan’s to cooperate with the Houston Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney, both of which we did fully.  In the same email correspondence, she thanked Mr. Brennan-Martin for his ‘swift action’ and expressly stated that Brennan’s was ‘not at fault.’”

“I’ve done a lot of pro bono work over the years where I have seen my clients, survivors of horrible violence, very bravely stand up for themselves,” Crutcher said when she disclosed her identity. “I think I should be able to do the same thing here.”

Crutcher’s attorney, Peter Taaffe, added on her behalf, “I don’t think she sleeps very much.  She is a single woman and she obviously has a lot of concerns about her security.  She is not doing well.  I’d like to say she is, but she’s not.  She’s had to take medical leave from her law firm…I think for her this is about holding people accountable for what happened to her.  Doing something about it.”


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