In Pennsylvania, if a bar or restaurant over-serves alcohol to a customer and that customer ends up causing an injurious car accident, then victims or their families can seek to hold the bar or restaurant accountable. The same sort of situation can arise with regard to social clubs that accept a fee for food and alcoholic beverages.
Recently a Pennsylvania jury had to consider these issues with regard to a 2009 car accident that took two lives and injured two others. A 26-year-old man went to a "gun bash" at an Elks Lodge in Allegheny County. Those who attended the event paid $25 for beer, food and raffle tickets, and the servings of food and alcohol were reportedly unlimited.
After leaving the Elks Lodge, the man, whose blood-alcohol content was later shown to be 0.226, crashed into another vehicle. The collision killed a 24-year-old woman and seriously injured her boyfriend, who died more than half a year later. Two other people in the vehicle were also injured.
Last year, the man who attended the "gun bash" was convicted of drunk driving and sentenced to state prison for two to four years.
The families of the deceased victims, along with the other two injured occupants, sued the driver and the Pittsburgh Elks Lodge No. 11. The plaintiffs sought to hold the Elks Lodge and the driver accountable for
A jury recently awarded the plaintiffs $28 million and assigned partial responsibility for the crash to the Elks Lodge. The award includes punitive damages of $10 million, which will be divided among the plaintiffs.
Unfortunately, over-serving of alcohol is a factor in auto accidents throughout Pennsylvania. In these cases, a drunken driver may face criminal charges, but victims or their families also have the option of seeking the full measure of justice through a civil lawsuit.
Source: triblive.com, "
Jury returns $28 million verdict to victims of deadly car crash
," Adam Brandolph, Nov. 22, 2013