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Dram Shop Claims Settle for $2.51 Million

Apr 13, 2023

A Wake County woman and her minor child who were injured during a collision with a drunk driver have settled their claims against the driver and the establishments that served him alcohol for $2.51 million dollars, their attorneys report.

Winston Kirby and Andrew Avram of Edwards Kirby in Raleigh report that their clients were struck by a drunk driver traveling the wrong way down the highway, resulting in permanent facial and arm scarring, a fractured arm, and abrasions to a young mother.  Her child in the back seat suffered minor injuries.  Kirby reports that the clients were returning home from an outing when an intoxicated individual driving the wrong way down a highway struck their vehicle head-on.

The drunk driver spent more than half a day driving to several bars and restaurants where he was served alcoholic beverages.  The receipts from those locations indicated that the drunk driver had been served enough alcoholic beverages that he would have been extremely intoxicated, their attorneys report.  Kirby said that the driver had no memory of the events of the day after the second bar he visited, nearly 5 hours before the wreck.

The attorneys report that the defendants denied that there was any evidence that the drunk driver was visibly intoxicated at the time he was served alcoholic beverages. Kirby reports that there was no video evidence of the drunk driver acting erratically or intoxicated at any of the establishments named in the lawsuit.  The defendants contended that because the drunk driver had returned to his home after visiting several bars, the alcohol consumed at those bars was not a proximate cause of the collision.  Additionally, the defendants contended that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the drunk driver appeared visibly intoxicated at any of the bars.

“It was clear from the receipts from the bars that the drunk driver had consumed enough alcohol to the point where he would have been highly intoxicated,” Kirby said.  “Our position was that the drunk driver had no memory of the events of the day because he had consumed enough alcohol that his brain was incapable of forming and retaining memories of the day’s events.  When someone is that drunk, he would have appeared intoxicated to anyone, including the bartenders and servers who continued to serve him alcohol.

“There were plenty of chances for these bars to refuse service to an intoxicated individual.  In this case that never happened, and the drunk driver wound up driving the wrong way down the highway and seriously injuring our clients,” Kirby said.

Avram reported that the attorneys for the Plaintiff learned during discovery that the driver had consumed at least ten drinks at the same bar over the course of two hours and that the driver had stopped at another bar where he had another three drinks less than an hour before the collision.  The last bar the drunk driver stopped at was less than a mile from the scene of the collision according to Avram.

“Importantly, the last bar that the drunk driver visited had clear policies in place that prohibited bartenders from serving alcohol to intoxicated patrons,” Avram said. “In the event that a bartender acknowledged or observed that a patron was intoxicated, the bar had a policy requiring that a taxi or ride be called for that person. We know that based on the receipts obtained in this case, this individual was severely intoxicated and pursuant to the policies and procedures of the final bar, he should have never been served in the first place and he certainly should not have been allowed to drive himself away from the bar,” Avram said.

The attorneys reported that the defendants contended that the mother’s injuries were insufficient to warrant a large recovery and that her child had suffered almost no harm.

The drunk driver plead guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol.  None of the bars he visited on the day of the collision received citations or warnings from the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.  The defendants collectively paid $2,510,000 to the Plaintiffs at mediation.

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