Thomas Jodry died after falling from the Marsh Street parking structure in September 2019
NORTH COUNTY — The wrongful death lawsuit filed by Thomas Jodry’s parents was dismissed by a San Luis Obispo County judge on Thursday, Jan. 5.
Mary Jane and Bill Jodry’s son, Thomas, 21, fatally fell from the Marsh Street parking structure in San Luis Obispo on Sept. 14, 2019. The night of Thomas’s death, he had been drinking with David Knight of Atascadero at the Frog & Peach Pub on Higuera Street.
In 2020, the Jodrys filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Knight, stating they felt he was responsible for their son’s death. Knight responded by filing a motion to a summary judgment in August, citing the Californian Good Samaritan Law — no duty to rescue or assist another person who is in danger or in an emergency situation.
At the Paso Robles branch of the San Luis Obispo Superior Court, Judge William Palmer ruled in Knight’s favor to dismiss the lawsuit.
Mary Jane and Bill Jodry appeared at the courthouse in Paso Robles that day ready to present their case. However, 30 minutes prior to the hearing, they were informed by their lawyer, Eric Parkinson, that the judge had already made his ruling.
The Jodrys, along with their supporters, were the only ones to show to the courtroom in person — their lawyer and Knight’s representation were virtually attending the hearing. Palmer asked if any of the attending parties had comments to add, but all parties declined until Mary Jane interrupted the judge.
She told the judge their lawyer was supposed to present an argument, and she did not believe that had happened.
Palmer responded by saying he was “under the impression he [Parkinson] did as good a job as he could have done with the law” and that he was “comfortable with his decision.”
Outside of the courtroom, the Jodrys thanked their friends and supporters for coming and for “just keeping us going all this time.”
The Night of Thomas Jodry’s Death: Sept. 14, 2019
Knight picked Thomas Jodry up from the Jodrys’ home around 2 p.m. on Sept. 14, 2019.
According to Bill, what happened after is pieced together from police reports, phone records, and coroner reports.
Around 7 p.m., Jodry sent a text message to his friend saying, “I will be home soon, and we are finally going to look at art.” His friend’s response told Jodry he would be out of town camping with his girlfriend for a few days.
According to employees, Jodry and Knight arrived at the Frog and Peach at approximately 8 p.m.
Phone records show that at 8:05 p.m., Knight sent Jodry a text message reading, “f*** you.” It is reported that Knight said Jodry did not acknowledge the message.
While at the bar, Knight opened a tab. Within one hour, Jodry had multiple drinks, including Knight’s.
As seen in a security video reviewed by Atascadero News, the two sat at the bar. Knight is seen to be switching his drink with Jodry’s — never to consume his own drink.
Around 9:15 p.m., a bystander called 911 to say someone had fallen, and an ambulance was sent to the scene.
Police officer body camera footage shows a man — later identified as Knight — approaching the officer attending to Jodry. Knight asked the officer what happened, and after the officer asked him to stop, Knight said, “I know him, that is Tommy, but I don’t want to be on record that I know him.”
Knight informed the officer of Jodry’s name and where he lived but would not identify himself or provide further information.
According to a coroner’s report obtained by Atascadero News, at the time of his death, Jodry’s blood-alcohol level was reported to be approximately 0.38 percent.
See Atascadero News’s 2021 full article outlining the night of Thomas’s death here: atascaderonews.com/news/thomas-jodrys-parents-still-seeking-justice/
The Judge’s Ruling
In his ruling, Palmer wrote, “While plaintiffs claim that defendant ‘encouraged’ Thomas to drink, there is no evidence that Thomas — who was an adult of legal drinking age at the time of his death — did not partake willingly, or that Thomas lacked consent to consume alcohol.”
Bill Jodry told their supporters that the dismissal of the civil case is not a complete loss for them, adding, “We learned a lot” regarding evidence and information obtained during the process.
Following the ruling, Mary Jane and Bill Jodry told a few stories about Thomas that represented their son’s character.
“I’m going to grow old, and I’m always going to tell my Tommy’s story,” said Mary Jane after the civil case ruling.
The Jodrys still plan to pursue a criminal case against Knight. The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office is currently reviewing case evidence from the San Luis Obispo County Police department to determine whether there are legal grounds for charges to be filed against Knight.
Finally, the Jodrys say they encourage any witnesses to come forward. They ask anyone with any information to reach out here justiceforthomas.com