FanDuel - WFBC

January 20, 2005

Beer Vendor Liable: for 1999 death of young girl

posted by garfield to culture at 12:26 PM - 23 comments

Yah - it's the $10 tip that allowed the drunk asshole to buy 6 beers that did it. Someone say culpable. Girls not dead though - paralysed. Uh, much better?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:55 PM on January 20

oops. thanks for the correction, weedy. im too busy to, you know, read the enitre article, or, errr, the subtitle.

posted by garfield at 01:03 PM on January 20

Wow! As a father I can say that there is no amount of money that can compensate for a child's suffering...of course $135M is a good start. But...this story doesn't seem to pass the 'smell' test for me. Aramark pays millions because some jerk can't exercise self control? Sure...they should have cut him off...but he got wasted and he got behind the wheel. Sure they sold him six at a time (wow)...but did he drink all six, or give some to his buddies (who let him drive)? And...I get the feeling this guy would have been wasted even if he bought two at a time. My heart goes out to this family...and I'm happy for them that their financial worries are gone, hopefully. But this verdict doesn't sit well with me.

posted by stofer71 at 01:28 PM on January 20

There has been case law on this issue for years... any vendor ,bar owner, or homeowner that provides alcohol that causes or contributes to guests/patrons intoxication will also be liable for that drunks' actions. Be careful if you have guests partying at your home... you may be legally responsible for their subsequent actions and defending yourself in court and it will pass the "smell test" This "accident" never should have happend and my heart also goes out to that girl and her family

posted by McLaw at 01:53 PM on January 20

I have no doubt about liability (under American law and case precedence) in this instance but the amount of the award is too much and will surely be used as an example by Bush and the Republicans in their campaign for tort reform.

posted by billsaysthis at 02:01 PM on January 20

Not every place (not every jurisdiction) holds people responsible for "guests" at a private residence etc., but as far as bars, stadiums and other places with a liquor license...they are responsible for serving obviously intoxicated people, serving more than allowed (like the 6 beers at a time) and so on... In New Jersey, that is where this happened right?: N.J.S.A. Section 2A:22A-5, reads: "a. A person who sustains personal injury or property damage as a result of the negligent service of alcoholic beverages by a licensed alcoholic beverage server may recover damages from a licensed alcoholic beverage server only if: (1) The server is deemed negligent pursuant to subsection b. of this section; and (2) The injury or damage was proximately caused by the negligent service of alcoholic beverages; and (3) The injury or damage was a foreseeable consequence of the negligent service of alcoholic beverages. b. A licensed alcoholic beverage server shall be deemed to have been negligent only when the server served a visibly intoxicated person, or served a minor, under circumstances where the server knew, or reasonably should have known, that the person served was a minor." Sorry if the post is long, etc.

posted by chris2sy at 02:10 PM on January 20

Aramark pays millions because some jerk can't exercise self control? Alcohol service laws gotta have teeth to make sellers behave responsibly. Selling six beers to one drunk customer is irresponsible, especially when he's at a game where people will be driving home within the next hour. The numbers are excessive, but how expensive will that girl's medical expenses be over her life?

posted by rcade at 03:19 PM on January 20

Actually, I imagine $135 million is going to go toward paying a lifetime of medical problems. The frightening thing is that this is probably reasonable in light of how much medical expenses are there days.

posted by Joey Michaels at 03:22 PM on January 20

It is likely their commericial insurance carrier will pay the policy limits and the company will settle the excess amount at a reduced figure or they will go bankrupt. I doubt she will see a majority of the award. I dont think the 60M in compensatory damages are excessive. The problems for a 2 year old girl who is now quad are enormous. Her med expenses can run as high as 25-30k per day when hospitalized and the use for a respirator, kidney dialysis, etc... her life expectency is probably reduced to 40% of normal, not including the loss of quality of life, pain & suffering, and future emotional issues. In my state attorney fees on cases involving minors are set by statute. Her funds will go to a trust the will be overseen by the court. The punitives are likely to be reduced depending facts not mentioned in the article. I dont think anyone should question the 60M in compensatory damages. Tort reform is not necessary, it protects the public, after all it is the public (juries) that issue these awards, not the lawyers.

posted by McLaw at 03:56 PM on January 20

the company will settle the excess amount at a reduced figure or they will go bankrupt Aramark is a massive corporation. I don't see them going bankrupt because of this.

posted by dusted at 04:05 PM on January 20

McLaw, not disagreeing on the need for tort reform which is why I mentioned that Bush & Co. will use it for pushing that.

posted by billsaysthis at 06:48 PM on January 20

Like McLaw sez, Aramark are likely going to appeal and get the settlement down. The foot-dragging and new judges (yes?) will also contribute to the plaintiffs settling for less. The jury probably anticipated this and stuck up the massive number in order to send a strong message to the corp. They probably know this is the best way to hit Aramark where it hurts. I wonder if some requirement to do some big national apology, advertising etc. wasn't built into the judgement. Maybe they can work it into the settlement. A little public shaming for the corp and the vendor wouldn't hurt either.

posted by worldcup2002 at 07:53 PM on January 20

There has been case law on this issue for years... any vendor ,bar owner, or homeowner that provides alcohol that causes or contributes to guests/patrons intoxication will also be liable for that drunks' actions. Be careful if you have guests partying at your home... you may be legally responsible for their subsequent actions and defending yourself in court and it will pass the "smell test" Agreed. I get the intent of this law. Having bartended for 3 years (back in the day, so to speak) I believe it is the bartenders job to control the room and make sure nobody gets too plowed and behind the wheel. On the other hand (you knew it was coming), having thrown back my fare share of beers at many a ballpark and stadium, this guy could have been served by multiple vendors...and been wasted when he walked in from hours of tailgating. I'm just not sure I like the way the system worked in this case (having heard none of the facts...should that stop me from being obstinate?). Now...if he was doing beer bongs in the skybox with the CEO of Aramark...that would be a totally different story.

posted by stofer71 at 09:46 PM on January 20

According to this article, Aramark, because there is no joint and several liability for this and they were found equally (50%) at fault with the driver, is looking at paying their share ($30 million) plus the punitive damages ($75 million) which, according to the article, were assessed against Aramark only, for its role in serving the drunk driver. The driver's share of the judgment ($30 million) will never be recovered by the Plaintiffs would be my guess. I don't feel sorry for Aramark. I'm sure the punitve damages award will be reduced a little, like McLaw said, depending on facts not mentioned in the articles...things that would indicate they were less "willful and wanton" in their disregard of safety or that they didn't disregard safety, etc., stuff like that. But right there is $30 million that she won't ever see just with the driver's share.

posted by chris2sy at 09:43 AM on January 21

Here's an even better break down of the damage awards, except this article includes interest I think and lists the total at $112 million. They stop serving at the third quarter and he was at .266 BAC at the time of the crash, according to the NYT article.

posted by chris2sy at 09:56 AM on January 21

so how does aramark prevent a situation like this from occurring again? what's to stop another vendor from taking some extra cash to skirt the policies?

posted by goddam at 10:10 AM on January 21

Judging from this article and this press release from yesterday (?), they are working on that...sounds like the Plaintiffs at least got $100,000.00 out of the drunk driver, his policy limit.

posted by chris2sy at 10:56 AM on January 21

.266!?!?! Well, that's way more than 6 beers. WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY more.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:05 AM on January 21

Goddam, in America companies are responsible for the actions of their employees, generally speaking, which is why bars are sued when their bartenders continue serving patrons past the point of inebriation. The expectation is that they will use reasonable judgment in hiring, training, supervision and policymaking to prevent such activity.

posted by billsaysthis at 03:07 PM on January 21

The expectation is that they will use reasonable judgment in hiring, training, supervision and policymaking to prevent such activity. Been to a stadium lately? Most of the vendors are minimum wage workers with very little interest in paying much attention to customers or 'service'. I bet the interview sounded a bit like this: "Ever been caught stealing?" "No" "Great, here is your shirt." Expecting them to act at the same level of a bartender or a waiter is setting expectations too high. One vendor may serve thousands of people...expecting that minimum wage worker to remember how many drinks someone had and police their intake is also too much to expect. If a vendor had the wisdom to cut him off...the likelyhood of 'the perp' trying another vendor and getting served is pretty high, I would think (not that I have ever tried that :)

posted by stofer71 at 03:34 PM on January 21

Stofer, that's just executive judgment trading off potential liability for lower operating costs and doesn't relate to a corporation's legal responsibility. However, if there are enough incidents from a single company I would expect a smart lawyer to pick up on it and use it to justify even higher levels of punitive damages, or shareholder suits against the execs.

posted by billsaysthis at 07:48 PM on January 21

There was a report on PTI today that Aramark has decided to suspend liquor sales at halftime in Pittsburgh this Sunday. An interesting situation is starting to brew (pardon the pun). Stadium operators are being forced to limit sales of the NFL's number one sponsor(s) due to fans inability to govern themselves. I understand (in my own limited way) the laws at play in this story, why they are enforced and why the decision came down the way it did. And again...I am happy this family is getting the dough. I guess my point is that there are many factors involved here, and that it all starts to go bad when someone can't control themselves. I have behaved poorly in my time...not proud of it...and thankfully nobody ever got hurt. Lost in this story is the fact that society condones going to the game and getting blitzed. Tailgate partys start 5 hours or more before game time...they are promoted on TV. As long as this behavior is encouraged it will be a problem.

posted by stofer71 at 10:20 PM on January 21

As long as this behavior is encouraged it will be a problem. Truer words have rarely been written.

posted by billsaysthis at 02:25 PM on January 22

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