Verdict: $14.1 Million
Transit Corp.: # 03-2-00859-8
Court: Whatcom County Superior Court
In a decision that sent a resounding message to liquor serving establishments that over serve patrons, a Whatcom County, Washington, jury handed down a $14.1 Million judgment against Moose Lodge #493 of Bellingham, Wash.
The plaintiffs in the case were the Faust family from Manhattan who suffered irreparable injuries including paraplegia to a 7-year-old boy. A drunk driver who was a member of the Moose Lodge caused the head-on collision in April 2000, the jury ruled.
The award includes economic and non-economic damages suffered by three members of the family, represented by James C. DeZao, Esquire, in Parsippany, N.J., and local Washington counsel Steve Chance, Esquire. “The judgment sends a message to all bar owners to not let a drunk leave the premises and become a cause of injury to the public,” said DeZao. He added, “We are satisfied with the results that the jury held the intoxicated driver, bartender and the bar responsible for the injuries caused to our clients.”
The case Whatcom County Superior Court # 03-2-00859-8 involved Hawkeye Kinkaid, a member and patron of the Moose Lodge who was killed in the accident. He was at the bar on April 21, 2000, drinking from the time it opened at 4:30 p.m. until he left just before the accident. He traveled a few miles before causing a head-on accident by crossing the centerline on Labounty Road in Ferndale, Wash., according to DeZao. He was pronounced dead at St. Joseph Hospital a short time later.
At the time of the accident, the plaintiff’s toxicology expert testified, Kinkaid had 0.26 BAC, which is above the Washington state legal limit of 0.08. The Whatcom County Medical Examiner classified alcohol as the contributing factor in his death.
The Fausts’ lawyer, DeZao, presented evidence demonstrating negligent hiring and supervision of the bartender at the Moose Lodge. He convinced the jury that Kinkaid left the Moose Lodge in a state of intoxication just prior to the accident.
“What made this case unique was that the deceased drunk driver Hawkeye Kinkaid also was the boyfriend of the Moose Lodge bartender,” said DeZao. “We had an uphill battle. The jury made the right decision after evaluating all the evidence. We now hope that the Faust family will be able to begin a new chapter and proceed with their lives.”