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Charlotte Bar Fined for Serving Drunk Driver Brings Up Liability Issues

A Charlotte jury fined Eddie’s Place, a South Charlotte bar and restaurant, $1.7 million for serving a drunk man who crashed into a car and severely injured two parents. The mother was pregnant and lost her unborn child because of the crash.

The parents, Matt Eastridge, 32, and his wife, Meredith, 32, were hospitalized for more than a month for critical injuries, extensive surgery and longtime therapy. Meredith, who was six months pregnant, also lost 40 percent of her blood, according to an article published by USA Today.

The car crash was caused by David Huffman, 25, whose blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit. USA Today quoted Matt as saying that Huffman had been given as much as “15 drinks in two hours,” while he was at Eddie’s.

The North Carolina car accident happened Oct. 29, 2010, when the Eastridges had started to drive away from an ATM. The drunk driver slammed into their car at more than 100 miles per hour, police say.

Edie’s Place had served Huffman 10 drinks during two hours and ten minutes at the bar, according to the establishment’s lawyer. Employees at the bar, seeing that Huffman was visibly drunk, arranged for him to be driven home by another customer. While Huffman initially agreed to accept the other customer’s ride, he wound up driving his own car.

The issue of liability and the laws that govern it are highlighted by this case, according to USA Today.  Such laws are called dram shop laws, initially named for places that sold liquor, which at one time was dispensed by the dram.

Dram shop law differs significantly among the states. In North Carolina, according to the Eastridges’ attorney, the law says that a bar or other establishment cannot serve liquor to “someone who is visibly intoxicated when you have reason to believe they are going to drive. It’s not our duty to make sure no one every leaves a restaurant with more than .08 alcohol in their system. . . But that may be what the jury decided.”

There is a difference of opinion on placement of liability of dram shop law. Who should be held responsible and to what extent for a car crash that injures or kills someone — the bar or the driver?

Source: USA Today

If you or someone you love is injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you can turn to the North Carolina personal injury lawyers at Kelly & West to find out who is liable — the driver and possibly the bar or restaurant that served him or her. To learn more, contact us today.

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