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Automobile Tort/Dram Shop Claim
Closed head injuries and multiple fractures and other serious personal injuries
$537,214.00 (split between the two Plaintiffs)
The two plaintiffs were pedestrians struck by an automobile operated by defendant, who was subsequently convicted of operating under the influence and other motor vehicle offenses. defendant’s insurer paid each of the plaintiffs the liability policy limits of $50,000/person.
Plaintiffs subsequently brought suit against the restaurant/bar where defendant had been drinking. Discovery showed that defendant was visibly intoxicated and was also under the legal drinking age that night. A number of the witnesses who testified at deposition were themselves under age and/or intoxicated while at the bar that evening.
The restaurant/bar was incorporated and had no liquor liability insurance. The corporation leased space in a building owned by defendant’s realty trust. Plaintiffs subsequently brought suit against the sole officer and shareholder under two theories: (1) that he was personally liable for his own negligent hiring, training and supervision of the employees dispensing alcohol and, (2) a “piercing the corporate veil” theory. The evidence showed that the defendant shareholder had acquired the business for his daughter to run. The daughter had limited management or bartending experience. The defendant had 100% of the stock of the corporation transferred to himself to take advantage of the tax loss generated from the operating loss. The plaintiffs were prepared to prove that defendant intentionally operated the business in the red in order to make the corporation judgment proof. The defendant himself devoted limited actual time to the business as he maintained a full-time dentistry practice.
Defendant settled for $537,214.00 ($268,607.00 per Plaintiff) from his own personal assets. No insurance was involved. This payment settled all claims against the corporation and individual defendants.