Too Drunk To Drive
November 04 2015
A Connecticut jury ordered a local bar to pay $200,000 because it overserved an intoxicated woman who crashed into a group of barrels as she tried to exit Interstate 84.
According to evidence presented at trial, Shandeline Gutierrez and Jasmin Oyola each had several shots of vodka before they arrived at the Piolyn Jr. Bar in East Hartford, where they drank continually over the next several hours. Ms. Oyola claims that Ms. Guitierrez was visibly intoxicated and they “were holding onto each other because they were both unsteady on their feet because they were intoxicated” as they left the bar. After the crash, Ms. Guiterrez drove the unconscious Ms. Oyola to the hospital. Although she claimed the trip was necessary because she couldn’t find her cellphone, Ms. Oyola’s lawyer argued that she did not want police to find out she was intoxicated.
Because of policy limits, Ms. Oyola obtained only $25,000 from the car’s owner, and the jury ordered the bar owner, Miguel Franco Jr., to pay $200,000. Mr. Franco has filed a motion to reconsider.
Third Party Liability
Dram shop liability, and other third party liability theories, are particularly important when there is an uninsured or underinsured motorist at fault, because such an action provides an additional source of compensation for injured victims.
Indeed, any time alcohol is involved in a crash, one of the first questions to ask during discovery is “who provided the alcohol, and when did the sale or transfer take place?” To prove dram shop liability against a bar, restaurant, saloon or other entity, the plaintiff must prove:
- Injury: The tortfeasor (negligent driver or other person who caused damages) must be intoxicated at the time of the incident.
- Unlawful Sale: The defendant must sell liquor to a person who was “actually or apparently” under 21 or “visibly intoxicated” at the time. Evidence of intoxication includes unsteady balance, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and other physical signs.
- Caused or Contributed: The illegal sale must be at least partially responsible for the tortfeasor’s intoxicated state.
Under the New York dram shop law, alcohol sellers are strictly liable for the damages they cause if the plaintiffs prove a case.
If you or a loved one was hurt or killed in an alcohol-related vehicle crash or other similar incidence, contact us today for a free consultation. Our main office is conveniently located near Grand Central Station.