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Laporte County Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer Discusses $15 Million Verdict

Guy DiMartino July 26, 2016

LaPorte County Indiana personal injury lawyer discusses a $15 million dollar judgment in a drunk driving case out of Mississippi.

A recent article in the Claims Journal reported a $15 million dollar judgment in a drunk driving (liquor liability/dram shop) case in Gulfport, Mississippi. In this case, a drunk driver and three other people were killed in a car accident after the drunk driver had been drinking at Nick's Saloon and Grill. Witnesses said that the drunk driver was visibility drunk and the bar's employees continued to serve her alcohol and let her drive her car.

A blood test of the driver taken after the crash showed that her blood-alcohol content was .119%. Mississippi like Indiana has a .08% cut-off for DUI/OWI. The heirs of the decedents didn't think they would be able to collect the judgment. A decedent's father said these things: “the lawsuit was never about money… it was about accountability;” I want the public to know that the state's dram shop law holds lounge and tavern owners accountable when they serve alcohol to patrons who are visibly drunk and then allow them to get behind the wheel of a car and hurt or kill somebody;” and “money won't bring them back.”

When we represent families of people who have been killed in car crashes related to alcohol, we typically hear similar statements. Many people mistakenly believe that the only thing personal injury lawyers do is try to get money for people who have losses because of other peoples carelessness and negligence. While money is sometimes the only redress an injury victim can receive, the tort system also provides other benefits to injured people and society as a whole. These benefits can be summed up by the decedent's father in the Mississippi case. On many occasions we file a lawsuit for our clients with the following understanding that:

  • The lawsuit is not about money because money could never undue the wrong or bring back the decedent

  • Civil lawsuits will have a chilling effect and hopefully deter carelessness, corporate greed and profits over people

  • Society receives a message that a certain behaviors will not be tolerated by our community

Even though there was a $15 million dollar judgment, there are no winners in the Mississippi case. Hopefully, the families of the decedents will receive some peace knowing that restaurant and bar owners in Mississippi like Indiana have a duty to cut-off a visibly drunk customer and arrange for them to have a ride home.

Indiana drunk driving accident law is complex.