Wrongful death lawsuits are often lengthy and difficult to prosecute. The heirs of two individuals killed in Pennsylvania in 2008 unsuccessfully attempted to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against a country club where an alleged drunk driver was drinking prior to the fatal accident taking place. In a 10-2 vote, the jury ruled that the reported drunk driver was 100 percent at fault for the accident taking place.
This accident was particularly tragic in that the two individuals killed were engaged to be married. The two went out for a motorcycle ride and were later struck by a black pickup. Evidence at trial suggested that the driver of the pickup had consumed alcohol for a number of hours at the country club, and testimony described him as drinking beer from pitchers that other individuals had purchased. That the man appeared to be pouring his own drinks rather than be served the drinks by club employees may have ultimately swayed the jury.
Cases where establishments are held liable for the behavior of other are common. However, such cases are challenging because juries are not always willing to blame certain individuals concerning the behavior of others.
The above case seems to have been specifically decided based upon particular facts of the case, and without knowing the facts in sufficient detail it’s difficult to know whether the outcome of the case could have been any different. In any event, there is a particular legal process that takes place in establishing negligence in wrongful death actions, and meeting all of the requirements often requires the understanding of a personal injury attorney that has tried such cases on numerous occasions.
Source: The Morning Call, “Riverview Country Club not responsible for fatal Easton DUI wreck, jury finds,” by Riley Yates, May 28, 2013