Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

$15 million settlement in Allegheny County liability action

Many Allegheny County residents have an incomplete view of property owners' obligations to injured parties. Premises liability lawsuits usually stem from legal claims by plaintiffs injured or killed on a defendant's property. Dram shop liability can involve plaintiffs who never stepped foot on a property but suffered because someone else did.

A dram shop civil case was recently settled in Pittsburgh for more than $15 million. The defendants were a convicted drunk driver and a south side restaurant. The intoxicated man caused a 2010 car accident that killed a sleeping child and severely injured the girl's mother. Crash injuries also caused the pregnant woman to miscarry.

Court records said the Hofbrauhaus plied the patron with round after round of alcoholic drinks. The man drank multiple shots of liquor and half a dozen liters of beer. The patron was removed from the bar by restaurant security after vomiting on a table.

The Hofbrauhaus allegedly allowed the obviously impaired man to leave the premises and drive. Minutes later, the patron caused the fatal accident.

The patron pleaded guilty to DUI homicide after police determined the driver's speed and blood alcohol levels more than doubled legal limits. The man is now serving a prison term of up to 12 years.

The settlement was divided among the child's estate, father, injured mother and legal counsel. The mother whose injuries led to miscarriage received the greatest portion of the settlement -- $8.9 million.

As a condition of the terms, the Hofbrauhaus agreed to alter the way it dealt with patron intoxication. Employees will be trained and certified in alcohol management. In-house guidelines will help bartenders, servers and security recognize and monitor alcohol consumption. The restaurant will also supply designated drivers for intoxicated customers.

Premises liability entails what happens on a property. Dram shop laws extend the liability off the premises so plaintiffs who suffer indirect harm may claim damages.

Source:  post-gazette.com, "Owners of South Side's Hofbrauhaus settle in girl's death for $15.6 million" Paula Reed Ward, May. 07, 2013

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
20 Stanwix Street, Seventh Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Toll Free: 866-466-5789
Phone: 412-567-1232
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