Marine's Father in Party Ranch Lawsuit May Never See the $5 Million He Won


Tracy Lawson lost another court battle over deaths tied to alcohol consumed at the former Party Ranch Bar that Lawson owned and operated. The father of U.S. Marine Donald Di Pietro won a default judgment against Lawson, d/b/a The Party Ranch d/b/a Partyranch, LLC for $5 million. Donald Di Pietro, the father who won the lawsuit yesterday, will probably never see a dime of that money though.

His deceased son was named Donald, too.

 “Unless Lawson wins the lottery or inherits a lot of money, we knew going into this that there was no money there,” said Donald Di Pietro’s attorney Mary Golder of Webb, Stokes and Sparks in San Angelo.

Losing a child, even though Di Pietro was a grown man and a U.S. Marine sergeant who had served in Iraq, is a parent’s worse nightmare, Golder said.

Lawson stopped showing up in court about three hearings ago, Golder said. Lawson, in an exclusive interview with San Angelo LIVE! said that “there’s no sense showing up to these trials, ‘cause what’s the sense of it?”

Golder said that it was unfortunate that Lawson didn’t appear at the hearing yesterday to defend himself. “My client wanted to tell his story—and the story of his son. He wanted to be heard,” Golder said. The father phoned in to address the court at yesterday’s hearing.

Although Lawson still maintains he is not responsible for the deaths, Golder said that Lawson should have been a more responsible bar and business owner.

Lawson didn’t carry insurance on The Party Ranch, “and that’s why he can’t afford a lawyer,” Golder said, who maintains that having adequate insurance to protect not only yourself, but your patrons, is the first and foremost gesture of responsible business ownership. Golder also said that Lawson failed to supervise members of his staff who were caught over-serving patrons.

Earlier this year, the mother of 32-year-old Tersea Gartrell won a $5 million judgment against Lawson and the bar for her daughter’s death that was tied to the bar. In this incident, Teresa was killed after she left the Party Ranch with her boyfriend, 26-year-old Carl Bevers. They crashed into an innocent driver backing out of a driveway on the Houston Harte Expressway frontage road. Bevers measured a 0.199 blood-alcohol level in a test shortly after the crash. Golder and attorney partner Guy Choate represented the plaintiffs in that case too.

Golder said that in the initial stages of reviewing the two cases, she resolved to herself to get The Party Ranch shut down because of the irresponsible ownership.

Golder said that she is not against bars in general. “There are responsible bar owners in San Angelo,” she said. But The Party Ranch was bad. “If nothing was done about this, people would have blamed San Angelo.

“Di Pietro was a terrific guy who was killed for no reason,” she said.

The bar, located at 5233 Christoval Road, has been closed since the first quarter of 2014 after a string of fatal traffic crashes were tied to it. In this case, on March 9, 2013, Di Pietro was driving a motorcycle northbound on Old Christoval Road at the time that bar patron Malcolm Guy McBurnett was seated in his old Chevy pickup that wouldn’t start, and Allen Lee Schmidt had helped to push the truck into the middle of the roadway.  It was approximately 7:30 p.m.

On the dimly lit road, Di Pietro didn’t see the white Chevy pickup in the middle of the roadway and was killed after he slammed into it while driving his 2012 Victory motorcycle.

Golder said this is the last of the Party Ranch civil trials where her firm has represented victims. She said that Di Pietro’s mother has a pending lawsuit yet to be heard, but she is not involved.

Here are more stories about the Party Ranch.

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This is one of the finest examples of yellow journalism I've ever read. Journalism 101 taught me that quotes should never be taken out of context and that journalists should simply report the news from a completely objective perspective. It seems to me that every single story you have posted is slanted against the Party Ranch. I see much of what is said is written in such a way as to automatically cast an evil shadow over Tracy Lawson's head. Such a shame to see what passes for journalism these days.

live, Thu, 05/28/2015 - 15:29

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! Someone who will admit that they read the morning editorial on the LIVE! Daily Email. "It seems like it's a donkey punch to the soul." --Anonymous Commenter

You can subscribe here, so you don't miss the next donkey punch.

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J, I'm not sure I see where your coming from. I read the story here, already with the mindset that people are being overly malicious towards Mr. Lawson, whom I don't feel was directly responsible for these deaths. Some wrong-doings, perhaps. But he's no murderer. In other words, I'm on his side. I did not come to the conclusion that you did. Maybe its because I've read all of the other stories, including the ones capturing Tracy's side, I'm not sure. Live has simply reported on a new lawsuit development, and pointed out that he didn't show up. He has his reasons. It shouldn't matter to the reader as far as passing judgement on the reporting agency, but it has been covered in previous stories anyway. He has realized that "he can't win, and can't pay". So as stated above, why show up?

Thanks for the follow up SALive

If you look at the 'editorial' posted by Hyde, you will see more of what I mean. In it, he compares the Party Ranch situation to being bribed in Mexico. He has chopped quotes and put them in the story without linking back to the original full quote. In his stories, he also uses phrases like 'string of deaths' at the Party Ranch. However, there have only been 2. Not much of a 'string'. He gave many, many quotes from the perspective of the client and their attorney, but didn't bother to allow Mr. Lawson to reply to their opinions. The very title of the 'article' is so sensationalized, there is no way to misconstrue what Hyde is trying to say. Ultimately, Hyde pretty much admitted to his underlying intentions in the reply above where he promises more jabs at innocent people. If you look at more trustworthy news sources, they simply state the facts and keep opinion quotes to a minimum.

live, Thu, 05/28/2015 - 18:12

...or you have a very large ax to grind.

You didn't ask for my opinion on Lawson, and I never offered one. The point of the mordita editorial was this, but you have to read between the lines because I'm snarky and sometimes obtuse:

In particularly this case for a business, it increases concern for liability. To avoid what happened to Lawson (above), get insurance. That is all.


Don't let all these negative comments get to you. You just keep your chin up and understand that we appreciate what you do.

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