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

Restaurant learns not to 'over-serve' patrons

For sure, a restaurant worker may shrug and laugh at the tipsy customer he or she has "over-served" with liquor, but the smile can quickly vanish when the amusing incident terminates in a tragic wrongful death.

That certainly was the case in the recent episode that forever marred a popular German-style restaurant on the south side of Pittsburgh. In this aggravated case, a male patron allegedly guzzled at least six liters of beer while simultaneously being served up several shots of hard liquor over about four hours.

At one point, he even vomited on his table before finally being shown the door just before 10 p.m. However, despite his condition, he was allowed to find his way to his parked car and drive away. Foreseeably, he wound up driving 67 mph in a 25 mph zone with a blood alcohol of over twice the legal limit.

Predictably, there was a price to pay for the carelessness. A 7-year-old girl was killed by the drunken driver as she was asleep in the back seat of her mother's car. Her only trespass was getting in the way of the drunk's speeding vehicle. While the little girl was killed outright, the innocent pregnant mother suffered a broken pelvis and had a miscarriage.

The final settlement reached in the case, which never went to trial, was $8.9 million to the victim's mother; $500,000 to her father; and $2.1 million to the estate - not including attorney's fees and costs.

The lesson from the tragedy is that the drunken driver might prove to be relatively "judgment proof," but excellent experienced attorneys can examine the whole picture and in some cases trace the root negligent cause back to such a party as the German restaurant whose carelessness started the whole tragic chain of events.

Source:  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Owners of South Side's Hofbrauhaus settle in girl's death for $15.6 million" Paula Reed Ward, May. 08, 2013

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

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