Drunk Driver and Two Philadelphia Bars Being Sued Over Death of Pedestrian

The family of a 22-year-old woman who was killed in March 2012 when she was struck by a vehicle being driven by a drunk driver in South Philadelphia is suing the driver and two bars for damages under laws that exist to hold bars responsible for the conduct of their patrons who have been drinking in the establishments.

Pennsylvania’s Dram shop liability law is named for a “dram shop,” which is a 1700’s term for a tavern that sold alcoholic drinks by the then-popular dram, which is a small unit of measure.

Dram shop actions make bar owners and other people who make a profit selling alcohol responsible for the consequences of continuing to serve alcohol to someone who is over the limit. Drams laws also apply if the person who is served alcohol is underage. By serving additional drinks to someone and then allowing them to leave the establishment in that condition, the tavern owner can be held responsible for injuries to others. If you’re visibly intoxicated, the law says that a tavern owner should cease serving you alcohol at that point. The law is trying to remove the incentives for them to continue to sell additional alcohol to an intoxicated person. Because they’re making a profit by selling alcohol, they want to sell as much alcohol as possible because that’s how they make money.

In the Philadelphia case, ballet student Polina Kadiyska, had the right of way and was crossing South Broad Street near Ellsworth Street about 4 a.m. on March 18, 2012 when she was struck by an Audi being driven by DeAndre Barnes, who had been celebrating his 19th birthday that night by drinking in two local bars with several friends, according to a story in The Philadelphia Daily News. Barnes pleaded guilty Feb. 8 to a charge of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, according to the paper and is now serving five to 10 years in state prison.

Kadiyska’s estate has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the two South Philadelphia bars that served Barnes before the fatal crash, alleging that the establishments should have not served him because he is underage and because he was intoxicated, The Daily News reported. The defendants are identified in the lawsuit as Kelbar Inc., the parent company of T-Barr’s Bar, at 8th and Jackson streets, and Frantic Nightclub, which is owned by the American Legion Post 153, on 24th Street and Passyunk Avenue, according to the paper. Also named in the lawsuit is national headquarters of The American Legion.

The victim was thrown through the air nearly 115 feet by the impact of Barnes’ car, the story reported. The driver then fled the scene but was arrested later, according to the story, and his blood-alcohol level was .156, which is nearly twice the legal limit in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, a driver is considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol and intoxicated if his blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 percent or higher, according to state law.

In August of 2012, another well-publicized dram shop liability case was filed in the death of Philadelphia Police Officer Brian Lorenzo, who was riding home from work on his police motorcycle early in the morning in July 2012 on northbound I-95 near Cottman Avenue when he was hit head-on by a car being driven the wrong way on the highway. Lorenzo’s widow sued the car driver, who police charged with drunk driving, and the bar where the driver allegedly consumed at least 6 alcoholic beverages, including three 22-ounce Coors Lights, two vodka drinks, and another 14-ounce beer at the T.G.I. Fridays restaurant on Street Road, according to a news account in The Philadelphia Inquirer at the time.

In cases like these, bars that allegedly served alcohol to visibly intoxicated and or underage persons should be held responsible if the intoxicated persons are involved in vehicle crashes after they leave those establishments. That’s why we have dram liability laws on the books. The dram laws are there to help victims and their families when they are hugely impacted through the deaths of loved ones at the hands of drunk drivers whose drinking binges are not halted by the keen observations of restaurant and bar staff members in a moment’s notice. Dram shop rules exist to protect society as a whole and to punish bars and restaurants that continue to serve alcohol to customers who are already intoxicated.

While these cases of serving too much alcohol to customers may in fact be difficult to prove, these laws are on our books and must be enforced and prosecuted whenever they arise. Tavern owners must know that continuing to serve patrons once they are intoxicated is not acceptable, and that they will be held accountable.

These kinds of incidents and injuries happen every day when innocent victims are hurt in vehicle accidents through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s where having a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award is key.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.