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Florida jury holds bar liable for 2014 drunk driving death

It only took a Florida jury 90 minutes to return with a $30.84 million verdict against the bar that over-served one of its employees. That employee, a 20-year-old security guard, struck an 18-year-old cheerleader who was crossing the street with his car.

This was the outcome of the second trial for this case. The first one ended in a mistrial after three days of deliberation. The owner of the bar has vowed to appeal the verdict.

Evidence submitted in the trial shows that -- despite being underage -- the security guard purchased a total of 18 beers and six bourbons in just four hours before leaving the bar and getting behind the wheel of his vehicle. He claims, however, that he didn't consume all of the drinks himself and that he wasn't intoxicated. Jurors disagreed and found that his intoxication was a contributing factor to the young woman's injuries.

The victim had been another underage patron of the bar on the same night. A high school senior, she was in Tallahassee to visit her brother. Although she wasn't using a fake ID, she was still given a bar band that allowed her to buy drinks. She drank until she got sick, then sent for help to get back to the dorm she was visiting.

As she was crossing the street, the security guard's car hit her. He took no evasive action, nor did he slow down. He did not stop at the scene. Instead, he fled and hid his car about three miles away. He's already been sentenced to prison for the hit-and-run.

Meanwhile, the victim is now confined to a nursing home. She struggles to communicate and cannot care for her own needs. Her family says the money from the verdict would help cover her medical expenses and provide a better life for her than she now has.

When catastrophic injuries result from an accident, it's important to place liability everywhere it belongs. Bars are supposed to do a certain amount of due diligence when it comes to keeping underage patrons from drinking -- not make it easy for them to obtain all the alcohol they want. They're also supposed to cut off a patron who has been drinking to excess -- before someone gets hurt. If you've suffered a serious personal injury, find out more about your options.

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Wieland & DeLattre
226 Hillcrest St.
P.O. Box 944
Orlando, FL 32802

Phone: 407-841-7699
Phone: 321-639-4777
Fax: 407-841-2084
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