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Im underage, im drunk, i drove, i crashed, im paralyzed... its YOUR fault!

Most states have "Dram Shop" liability provisions for where bars serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated patrons and some states extend that liability to allow a minor to sue for his/her own injuries if the bar serves a minor (anyone under 21). Additionally, some states have even extended dram shop principles to homeowners under a "social host" theory.

In the states where the intoxicated person is permitted to sue, the jury is still allowed to consider the level of that person's culpability and reduce the award by the percentage of fault of the drunk driver. You can't blame the lawyers for taking a case that is permitted under the statutes of that state. However, if you want to find fault it is with the juries who award damages irrespective of the actual facts whether it be out of sympathy or as a form of "jury nullification".

Many juries treat "institutional" or corporate defendants more harshly simply because of a perception that they have the ability to pay. They generally ignore the effects of their verdict "largess" whether it be in higher insurance premiums or higher cost of goods sold by that corporate defendant.

For example, I have represented a major supermarket chain for many years and had a trial involving a shoplifter who was spotted stealing cheese and stuffing it down his sweatpants. He was observed by store security who lost sight of him momentarily at which point realizing he was "caught" he took the cheese and put it on a shelf in a different aisle so he could leave the store (all caught on surveillance cameras). When stopped at the exit by store managers thinking he still had the cheese, he began to attack them and he had to be restrained. The police arrived and arrested him but the D.A. dropped the charges because the cheese had been left on a shelf and then they chose not to prosecute his assault of the managers.

He filed a false arrest suit against the store and I had a hung jury for 3 days because two jurors felt that if he needed to steal cheese the corporation should have allowed him to do it since they could afford the loss. Ultimately, one of the two holdouts switched and I won the trial.

Lawyers bring/defend lawsuits in accordance with what is permitted in that jurisdiction. Most times it is the juries who disregard applicable laws and render verdicts that make headlines and cause the general public to insist upon tort reform. I agree that some tort laws need amendment but until juries stop following their whims and obey the law that is charged to them before deliberating we will continue to have headline making verdicts.

p.s. any many states prohibit direct attorney solicitation of a client although unfortunately more and more permit attorney advertising and client solicitation of mass accidents (such as plane crashes) but after a "cooling off period"
 
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underage drinking: illegal
drunk driving: illegal
driving without a seatbelt: illegal

she was 20 years old and made an adult decision to go into a bar knowing that the legal drinking age is 21, bought alcohol, and drove home... all decisions made as an adult.

she claims the bartender did not ID her... what if she was really IDed and she showed a fake ID? pretty common

she then decided to drive home drunk without a seatbelt, crashes, and blames the bar for her adult decisions which resulted in her paraplegia?

what do you guys think?


I think it a problem here in the United States where everyone blames everyone else for their OWN stupidity. I honestly wish that when something is so flagrantly stupid, that the person bringing the suit could get sued for wasting the state's resources and time. It would slow down people like this girl who are just looking to get paid for being an idiot. Imagine what would happen if this girl knew that she could be PENALIZED FINANCIALLY for bringing a suit against someone where it is so obvious that she (AS A LEGAL ADULT) should have known better, and caused her OWN accident and paralysis? It would slow frivilous lawsuits down considerably. Right now people sue because they have nothing to lose, and just money to gain.
 
However, if you want to find fault it is with the juries who award damages irrespective of the actual facts whether it be out of sympathy or as a form of "jury nullification".

Many juries treat "institutional" or corporate defendants more harshly simply because of a perception that they have the ability to pay. They generally ignore the effects of their verdict "largess" whether it be in higher insurance premiums or higher cost of goods sold by that corporate defendant.

This is "supposed" to be ameliorated by the fact that the trial lawyers are not allowed to even mention to the jury the existence or lack of liability insurance covering the defendant's actions. But in reality juries usually just assume (correctly or not) that the defendant does have insurance and that the defendant won't personally have to pay the judgment. There's enough vilification of the "Big Mean Insurance Companies" that it's okay to slap them with a big verdict. Most people don't bother to think far enough out to realize that same insurance company IS going to get that money back from someone. You and me!

Everyone thinks big insurance has all the money and influence in politics to lobby right-wing conservatives in office to keep the insurers fat and happy - and they're right. But Plaintiff's lawyers (who take 40% of this paralyzed girl's monetary recovery) also have lots of money to get their left-leaning politician friends elected. They're just less overt about it. Those politicians wage a media war against big insurance to "protect" us from their greed by resisting tort reform. So nothing ever gets done. The problem is systemic - and it isn't going away anytime soon. Don't worry, be happy. Things could be worse.
 
I tended bar through college, and the owner of the bar I worked at was pretty serious about underage. He sat the door most nights personally checking IDs, and he made it our responsibility to re-check anyone we might have had doubts about. If he caught an under-ager in the bar he would find out who served them and that tender or cocktail server got canned on the spot.

The reason for this was that a suit like this is really difficult and expensive to fight off- regardless of how obvious the fault might be. The way the laws are written the bartender, and the establishment have more responsibility (and liability) to verify the patron than the patron does to obey the law.
 
This is "supposed" to be ameliorated by the fact that the trial lawyers are not allowed to even mention to the jury the existence or lack of liability insurance covering the defendant's actions. But in reality juries usually just assume (correctly or not) that the defendant does have insurance and that the defendant won't personally have to pay the judgment.

We do not mention insurance (and it can be grounds for a mistrial in NY if it is brought up by the attorneys and in some cases even by the jurors during voir dire) but everyone knows in auto cases in NY there is insurance as well in homeowner cases.

However, the supermarket chain I represent is self-insured as are many of the car rental companies and product manufacturers that I represent. Jurors don't even think about insurance in those instances since they assume the corporation has enough assets to absorb the verdict.
 
I hear that often times, they will hold the trial in an area which is poor and uneducated, because those people in the jury are more sympathetic toward people who made stupid choices.

Yes, the bars are supposed to check ID. But it's not the bar's responsibility that she chose to drive drunk and paralyze herself.

Chris
 
I hear that often times, they will hold the trial in an area which is poor and uneducated, because those people in the jury are more sympathetic toward people who made stupid choices.

In NY the plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit) gets to decide where to file but there must be a connection to the county in which the suit gets filed. It can be filed where the plaintiff lives or where any one of the defendants live. Often times this enables an attorney to select a more favorable venue simply based upon the luck of finding a defendant to reside in a more liberal county.

The end results are greatly influenced by the county in which the case is filed and vary considerably even with a contiguous county or a nearby venue. For example, the Bronx in NYC is contiguous with Westchester which is contiguous with Putnam County (approximately 50 miles north of the Bronx).

The exact same injury gets varied values over the course of those 50 miles with a herniated lumbar disc, for example, being worth $10-15,000 in Putnam, $25-35,000 in Westchester and $150,000+ in the Bronx.

Welcome to my world....
 
This is a real maze we've created and I think there are many valid points here. But you know the U.S. is not the only country or system in the world. Having lived in a lot of places I often ask how something would play out elsewhere. In most non-modern countries she would just be SOL. In modern countries it would go something like this:

1) There would be much less liability on the part of the city and the bar and a whole lot on the girl.

2) The big lawsuit with the big payday for the plaintiff and the lawyer would probably not happen at all and if it did, the awarded damages would be much less. Why? I don't really know. Do juries have a different attitude? Probably. Are they more bound and limited? Definitely. How? By government regulations. You can't just award what your personal feelings are on a matter. These giant paydays just don't exist elsewhere. So government has a lot more say there than does a random jury.

3) insurance companies just like most corporations are much more regulated, they don't run wild like they can here with either their fees, or their ability to advertise or buy certain things they can here. The governments say "no" to the big lawsuits, therefore protecting the insurance companies... but they also say "no" to the insurance company becoming so big or charging X much, etc. it's just much more regulated.

3) A girl like this is mostly taken care of medically without massive amounts of expenses to her or her family. Health care costs are also paid for by the government, but they also cost A LOT LESS. My uncle who is a surgeon in Germany was talking to my sister who is a doctor here about medical malpractice. He was astounded at the insurance costs doctors must pay. When he was asked "well what if you make a mistake?"... He replied with "I make a mistake. Everyone lives with it. That's how it is, there is no giant lawsuit".

So I am not trying to make any point, just saying there are different ways. A girl like this would get no compensation from the bar or city. But she also wouldn't wind up on the street homeless because of medical bills. Society pitches in for these people, but the costs are also 1/10th because everything is more regulated from the doctor's salary limit to what an insurance company pays out and charges. My uncle is famous in Germany for his surgical work. One of a handful. Here, he'd have a fleet of exotic cars and 5 homes. There, he simply has a comfortable life. Nothing outrageous. He is happy with that. He is also happy with his security when he retires, and the way most ill people are treated. My sister here makes slightly more money but she is much less happy about the way the system works, the wastes, the fraud.

I don't think we have the best way of doing everything and it won't hurt to have an open mind and open eyes regarding how others do it and their benefits or drawbacks.
 
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Dave, look at the title of this thread.

Like you said, she is underage, she got drunk illegally outside of her home, and she drove under the influence without seatbelt.

Take all that aside. If she did use a fake ID, yes, she is stupid and deserve to be in her condition for the rest of her life, but if the bar did not card her like they should, there is a ground for law suit. The question is, who will be lying during this court case will determine the outcome.

The big deal is, if she's the one who is lying and get away with it, and end up with financial settlement that will take care of her for life, than we're all victims because she's the reason why insurance increases.

Truth shall set us free.
 
<img src="http://www.streetsie.com/wp-content/gallery/beautiful-wheelchair-babes/babe-wheelchair-honey.jpg" width=300>

Ah, your Honor.... we the Jury find for the Plaintiff. :tongue:
 
Dave, look at the title of this thread.

Like you said, she is underage, she got drunk illegally outside of her home, and she drove under the influence without seatbelt.

Take all that aside. If she did use a fake ID, yes, she is stupid and deserve to be in her condition for the rest of her life, but if the bar did not card her like they should, there is a ground for law suit. The question is, who will be lying during this court case will determine the outcome.

The big deal is, if she's the one who is lying and get away with it, and end up with financial settlement that will take care of her for life, than we're all victims because she's the reason why insurance increases.

Truth shall set us free.

Well said Vance!!!!!
 
Vance I'm failing to see what what you said has to do with my post.

FYI in the middle of the recession average insurance company profits were up a record 41%, over 23 billion dollars.

They continuously cry about what they pay out in cases like this but for every dollar their "cost" increases they charge two to the public and blame that cost. Yes, a case like this raises costs, and I am not defending it. I'm pointing out how it is all handled elsewhere. I'm not buying the insurance company tears. Essentially what they say is "don't cut a penny into our profits or else I will raise your rates two-fold" and so the anger is then directed towards a case like this. Anger isn't directed at the obscene profits or the behavior that "rising costs" are nowhere in line with rising premiums but used as an excuse. I own a business and my costs rise too, but I raise what I charge the same percentage and many times take less... Not a two fold increase. I don't say "a penny for my rising cost and another penny for me please."

I find the anger to be misplaced, which is the intent of many articles like this. Let me be clear: I am not defending this girls actions. As I said none of us know the real details and she could be a selfish irresponsible idiot. I understand that but I'm not jumping on the "this is what raises my costs" bandwagon conveniently offered to me by companies making hundreds of billions a year.

The point of my post was that this is handled better elsewhere IMO. There is more control over all of it from the lawsuits, to the liabilities, to the costs of taking care of her. Nothing is nearly as outrageous or out of control as we are used to seeing here.
 
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<img src="http://www.streetsie.com/wp-content/gallery/beautiful-wheelchair-babes/babe-wheelchair-honey.jpg" width=300>

Ah, your Honor.... we the Jury find for the Plaintiff. :tongue:

Jim next time you are called for jury duty send them the link to this post.
 
Vance I'm failing to see what what you said has to do with my post.

FYI in the middle of the recession average insurance company profits were up a record 41%, over 23 billion dollars.

They continuously cry about what they pay out in cases like this but for every dollar their "cost" increases they charge two to the public and blame that cost. Yes, a case like this raises costs, and I am not defending it. I'm pointing out how it is all handled elsewhere. I'm not buying the insurance company tears. Essentially what they say is "don't cut a penny into our profits or else I will raise your rates two-fold" and so the anger is then directed towards a case like this. Anger isn't directed at the obscene profits or the behavior that "rising costs" are nowhere in line with rising premiums but used as an excuse. I own a business and my costs rise too, but I raise what I charge the same percentage and many times take less... Not a two fold increase. I don't say "a penny for my rising cost and another penny for me please."

I find the anger to be misplaced, which is the intent of many articles like this. Let me be clear: I am not defending this girls actions. As I said none of us know the real details and she could be a selfish irresponsible idiot. I understand that but I'm not jumping on the "this is what raises my costs" bandwagon conveniently offered to me by companies making hundreds of billions a year.

The point of my post was that this is handled better elsewhere IMO. There is more control over all of it from the lawsuits, to the liabilities, to the costs of taking care of her. Nothing is nearly as outrageous or out of control as we are used to seeing here.

You really need to get over how much money companies are making. It is none of your business. I would like to see you showing me how much money the government is taxing and the allocations of that money.

Private sector making money is not a big deal, but if they are over charging the product, competitions will take care of them. If the government over tax us for what ever reason, they will still be in business.
 
Vance you know I like you and I respect you but our outlook and politics can't be further apart. I've said what I needed to say, I'm bailing out before it gets personal and the thread is locked.

Please make your points without telling me how I need to be. I don't tell you that and so I'd appreciate the same from you. Anyway I prefer to talk NSX where we do have a lot in common.
 
subscribed. this is better than a John Grisham novel :biggrin:.
 
Intriguing. Drink responsibly wasn't in her understanding. Wonder what would her reaction if she hit someone instead? Still shifts the blame?


On a side-note. Me and work pal likes to go to YardHouse for dinner after work at PGA Boulevard WPB . I think I've been asked for my ID couple of times there, bartender seem septic I'm approaching my 40s :biggrin:. Never been asked in the other bar/eatery. None the less 20 is an adult, other countries have lower age limit then the US but as a traveller to these countries. 21 is more then sensible.
 
my guess (only a guess here): she showed a fake ID. Bartender didn't catch the fake, served her drinks.
now that she's suing, she claimed bartender didn't check ID. There's no way bartender can remember who's who given the incidence was 2 years ago and he had served likely 20,000 customers since.
 
Has she sued her parents yet for not having her sooner so she wouldn't be underage? She should get on that if she hasn't already done so!
 
<img src="http://www.streetsie.com/wp-content/gallery/beautiful-wheelchair-babes/babe-wheelchair-honey.jpg" width=300>

Ah, your Honor.... we the Jury find for the Plaintiff. :tongue:

This thread went from pure stupid to awesome with this single post. Thank you sir, thank you :D.
 
Wow, just wow. This thread has been a roller coaster of emotion for me;

When I was 20 I was living in San Francisco in my own apartment with a roommate (who was 24 at the time) and he would take me to MANY 21+ clubs. More often than not we would have a drunken ball and get home in the wee hours of the morning without incident (with at least one of us being sobered up by the time the club closed at 4-5am). I knew what I was doing what illegal and I also knew that I could seriously get into HUGE trouble if I got caught outside of the club while intoxicated, but I made the choice to get drunk and dance.

One time at *club X* (name omitted) my friend and I got drunk in the car (parked), walked into the club and I had WAY too much to drink and one bouncer had decided that I had drank enough and needed to leave. Upon escorting me out I was beyond saving, I lost my lunch all over the place, the street, my lap, the bouncers lap etc. (this part is a bit fuzzy still to this day) They were asking how old I was, to which I remember lying and just asking them to call my friend who is inside the club to come get me and take me home. The last thing I remember is sitting against the brick building in the cold vomiting on myself.

Luckily I awoke the next morning in my apartment, my friend had come outside to see where I had gone (he had lost his phone) dragged me to the car and made sure I got home safely. To this day I haven't been back to "Club X" out of plain embarrassment.

I made a poor decision and luckily didn't end up in jail or the morgue and while I have calmed down quite a bit I know that I was EXTREMELY lucky that night. If anything had happened to me that night (or any of the other nights) it would've been exactly what I deserved and I would've had no one to blame but myself. Luckily this story ended with only some embarrassment on my part and a headache I'll never forget.

I think that "personal accountability" is something that is long lost in this day and age. This girl will never walk again, she made MANY wrong choices that night to get her into that situation. I just don't see where she can think it is anyone's fault but her own.

If everyone is out to make a dollar for every penny they lose/spend, the world will run out of money very quickly.

Sorry for the super "cool story" post.
 
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i think her bad decisions caught up with her. Natural selection at work.

+1 :)


WTF?!?

If I was a judge and this case came into my court, this girl would be thrown in jail so fast it'd make her flip her wheelchair!

What an idiot! I hope she got her voter registration card revoked.
 
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