A 2018 fire that resulted in nearly $400,000 in damages to a popular Willcox eatery was caused by a customer’s cigarette that wasn’t properly extinguished, according to a lawsuit filed last week by the restaurant’s insurance company.
United States Liability Insurance Company (USLI) paid out $390,976 in claims after Big Tex Bar-B-Que was damaged in a May 22, 2018 fire. The restaurant is partially housed in an old railcar in downtown Willcox and has attracted locals and tourists with the aroma of mesquite smoke.
After the fire, Willcox fire officials reported that a cigarette thrown next to the structure’s dry wood siding caused the blaze. USLI is now seeking to enforce its right of subrogation to pursue reimbursement from multiple third-parties it alleges negligently contributed to the claims.
According to the lawsuit, Tyson Lange, an employee of Miller Sales and Engineering, was dining at Big Tex Bar-B-Que when the fire allegedly started because he and/or other coworkers “carelessly and negligently failed to extinguish lit cigarettes.” Miller Sales is also named by USLI as a defendant.
Several other unnamed defendants -identified as John Doe 1 through John Doe 30- are also “legally responsible in some manner for the damages alleged,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff will amend this complaint to allege the true names, capacities and liabilities…when ascertained.”
The attorney for USLI has until mid-May to serve the lawsuit on the defendants.
Big Tex Bar-B-Que reopened in February 2019 after an extensive remodel. Restaurant owner Jeff Willey is not a party to the insurance company’s lawsuit.