Todd Keeling of White Bear Lake was an inventor, and he loved beer.
Ever since he graduated from college, he’s been tinkering with an invention he called his passion project: the perfect beer-tapping technology. By the time he was 48, the father of four had his own patented beer-dispensing system—“Draftwell”—that was supposed to drastically cut down pour times. He’d even installed it in two Major League Baseball stadiums, including Target Field.
In June of last year, he was supposed to set up Draftwell in a third location: SunTrust Park, home of the Atlanta Braves. He promised his invention would cut down the average pour time from 14 seconds to five, according to an article in the New York Post.
He went down to Georgia to complete the installation, took an overnight shift before a game day, and that was the last time anyone would see him alive. His body was found the following day in a concession stand beer cooler. Investigators found no signs of foul play.
But his widow, Angela Keeling, is claiming someone is responsible for Todd’s death. According to a wrongful death lawsuit she's filed, the construction team in charge of the installation received an email before the incident that could have saved Todd’s life. It allegedly said there were some “issues” with the door release mechanisms in coolers throughout the stadium.
The lawsuit also says the builders should have known about some carbon dioxide leaks throughout the draft beer system—including Cooler 331, where Todd was working. It posits that while Todd was busy installing Draftwell, carbon dioxide began to seep into the space, threatening to poison him.
According to the Cobb Business Journal, the rest was just a matter of time. Investigators determined he died of asphyxia due to carbon dioxide exposure. They couldn’t find any evidence that he tried to use the door—or his cellphone, for that matter. That could have been because he was “so disoriented” from breathing the toxic air that he couldn’t save himself.
The complaint argues that the construction team and the Braves knew about the leaks and the faulty doors, and should have fixed them before Todd even got on the scene.
Angela is seeking damages for Todd’s pain and suffering, the mental anguish to herself and her family, the loss of her husband’s earnings, medical expenses, funeral expenses, and more—basically, “all other damages permissible under Georgia law.” She didn’t respond to interview requests.
Atlanta Braves spokesperson Beth Marshall declined to comment.
His death also seems to have sabotaged Draftwell. Earlier this year, the company announced it was “suspending operations for the foreseeable future.” Day-to-day operations without Todd had proven to be “more difficult than initially thought.”
“While the entire team is handling this loss in different ways, we all recognize what a unique individual Todd was,” a company statement said. Their founder and president had been a “gregarious,” “fun-loving,” “loyal” man, and a “passionate inventor.”
It asked readers to get themselves a “well-poured draft beer, pause… and enjoy time spent with friends and family.”