Action: Dram shop liability
Injuries alleged: Internal injuries
Case name: Withheld
Court/case no.: Withheld
Jury and/or judge: N/A (settled without mediation)
Date: Aug. 2, 2022
Attorney: Seth Beckley and Matthew Gambale of Osborn Gambale Beckley & Budd in Raleigh (for the plaintiff)
In August 2019, the plaintiff was a passenger in a motor vehicle being driven by a friend on Highway 70 in Johnson County on their way to a girls’ night out.
A drunk driver driving the wrong way on Highway 70 collided head-on with vehicle the plaintiff was riding in, seriously injuring her and her two friends.
The plaintiff suffered catastrophic internal injuries, requiring multiple surgeries, which necessitated lengthy rehabilitation and left her with significant abdominal scarring. The plaintiff lost a portion of her intestines, causing a permanent effect on her ability to work and enjoyment of life.
The drunk driver was coming from a wedding reception where she was served the equivalent of two bottles of champagne by the wedding venue. Law enforcement determined the drunk driver’s blood alcohol content was more than two times the legal limit.
The defense and insurers argued that there was no proof that the drunk driver “appeared” intoxicated when she was being served by the wedding venue employees and the wedding venue denied all liability.
In response, the plaintiff engaged toxicology and hospitality experts to scientifically prove that the drunk driver was served drinks by the wedding venue after she was intoxicated (in violation of North Carolina law) and that employees sufficiently trained in the safe service of alcohol would have been able to see and recognize the drunk driver’s outward signs of intoxication.
The plaintiff settled with the drunk driver and the venue that was responsible for the wedding reception, including alcohol service. Special damages included $40,974.81 in medical bills, $320,000 in future medical care and $1.1 million in future loss of earnings.