$1.6 Million Settlement in Wrongful Death Case of Motorist Killed by a Drunk Driver

As she drove her vehicle through an intersection in Springfield, Ill., on July 21, 2012, 22-year-old Quana S. Poole’s van was struck by a work truck being operated by a drunken driver. The work truck driver ran a red light and smashed into Poole’s vehicle. She died the next day from her injuries.

More than a year after the fatal crash, her family has reached a $1.6 million settlement in connection with her death, according to a story in the Springfield-based State Journal-Register.

Poole’s vehicle was struck in the intersection of Monroe Street and Ninth Street by an MB Heating & Cooling work van that was being driven by Alex L. Robertson, 27, of Waverly, Ill., according to the story. Robertson, who was operating the work truck while drunk, was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated driving under the influence, the paper reported.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Poole’s mother, Melissa Williams, a month after the accident, according to the paper.

About $1.5 million of the settlement is being paid by the insurance company for MB Heating & Cooling, where Robertson formerly worked, the story reported. Another $140,000 is being paid under the state’s Dram Shop Act by the Guitars & Cadillacs Saloon, where Robertson had been drinking before the crash, according to the State Journal-Register.

“Robertson had been drinking at the tavern for about two hours after he had completed a service call and drank for an hour at the site of the call, according to documents filed in connection with the suit,” the paper reported.

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.

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.

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.

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.