Car accident lawsuit updates from around the United States.
Car Accident Lawsuit: Family of DUI Crash Victims Awarded $301 Billion in Largest-Ever U.S. Personal Injury Verdict
December 12, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala
The surviving family members of a grandmother and her 16-year-old granddaughter killed by a drunk driver in November 2017 were awarded the largest personal-injury verdict in United States history December 7, with a Texas jury finding that the family is owed $1.04 billion in “actual damages” and $300 billion in “exemplary damages,” local news outlets reported.
Beyond the record-setting sum, the verdict is significant because of who the defendant is: Not the individual who had been driving under the influence, who also perished in the crash, but the bar where he had been overserved and its owners.
The late driver Joshua Delbosque had been served 11 alcoholic beverages at now-defunct Beer Belly’s Sports Bar and had a blood alcohol level of .263 at the time of the fatal accident, local affiliate ABC13 reported based on court records.
Under Texas law, as in most states, the legal limit for intoxication is a blood alcohol level of .08%.
“Beer Belly’s either knew or should have known that Delbosque was a danger to himself and others based on his intoxication and lack of control over his mental and physical faculties,” the lawsuit filed by the victims’ family alleged, according to CNN.
Despite the staggering verdict, the family expects to see little, if any, of the money. The defendant Beer Belly’s clearly would not have anywhere near the assets to pay almost one-third of a trillion dollars, even if it were still a going concern, which it is not. After Beer Belly’s liquor license expired in September 2019, it was subsequently canceled by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC).
“This case illustrates the consequences of selling alcohol to a person who’s already had too much,” a TABC spokesperson told CNN. “Texas law requires alcohol retailers to cut off customers who show signs of intoxication. Those who violate the law could face significant financial and legal consequences if their actions contribute to loss of life.”
In addition to Beer Belly’s and its former owners’ inability to cover such a massive verdict with their own assets, establishments that sell alcohol in Texas are not required to have the kind of insurance that would cover such judgments against them.
“[S]ince Texas does not require bars and restaurants who serve alcohol to have insurance this happens all too often,” an attorney for the victims’ family told CNN. “If bars and restaurants are required to carry insurance for this then insurance carriers would have oversight from that industry helping to make sure this does not happen again.”
On November 12, 2017, 59-year-old Tamra Kay Kindred picked up her 16-year-old granddaughter, Aujuni Tamay Anderson, from her job at a pizza parlor in Corpus Christi, Texas. As Kindred’s vehicle passed through an intersection, a vehicle driven by Delbosque ran a red light at a high rate of speed, resulting in a violent collision that killed all three. It later was estimated that Delbosque’s vehicle had been traveling at 91 mph as it entered the intersection.
While the historic verdict may end up being merely symbolic, the plaintiffs and their lawyers hope that it will send an important message that will help prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.
“To every bartender, bar owner, and server, it’s OK to care enough about your customer and not let them get drunk and drive,” the plaintiffs told CNN in an email.
KSAT. (10 December 2021). Texas jury awards $301 billion settlement in lawsuit against bar for fatal drunken driving crash
ABC13 KTRK. Jury awards Texas family $300 billion over 2017 DWI crash that killed teen and her grandmother
Ebrahimji, Alisha. (10 December 2021). A jury awarded the family of two drunk driving victims more than $301 billion, but they don’t anticipate seeing any of it. CNN
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