Motor Vehicle Negligence – Auto/Truck Collision – Defendant host driver/shareholder in tavern hosting holiday party is inebriated while driving drunk decedent home – Host car collides with defendant operator of tractor-trailer exiting recycling transfer facility – Negligently designed exit from facility requires exiting truck to block both lanes – Death Action.
Hudson County, New Jersey
In this action, the 34-year-old decedent, who was a guest at a holiday party held at the restaurant/tavern in which the host driver was a minority shareholder, and which tavern he was responsible for managing on the night in question, contended that the defendant host driver opted to drive the decedent from the tavern because the decedent, who brought this own car to the tavern, had become intoxicated at the party. The plaintiff maintained that the host driver was intoxicated as well and collided with a tractor-trailer exiting a recycling transfer facility.
The plaintiff did not pursue a dram shop action against the defendant tavern for service to the defendant host driver when he was visibly intoxicated. The plaintiff contended that the defendant driver was furthering the interests of the restaurant/tavern when opting to give a ride to the decedent, who became inebriated at the party, and that the restaurant/tavern was vicariously liable for the negligence of the driver. The defendant driver had pled guilty to manslaughter because of his intoxication.
The plaintiff further contended that the defendant tractor-trailer driver negligently entered route 1 & 9 without making proper observations and that the exit was negligently designed in such a manner that a tractor-trailer driver exiting onto the highway from the recycling transfer facility had to block both lanes. The plaintiff named the owners of the recycling transfer facility, as defendants as well.
The decedent was unconscious at the time of the collision and there was no evidence of conscious pain and suffering. He left a daughter, age seven at the time of his death. The decedent worked in the insurance field and was also a bartender. The plaintiff’s economist concluded that the death occasioned economic damages of $740,000.
The case settled prior to trial for $750,000, including $200,000 from the host driver, $350,000 from the restaurant/tavern, $100,000 from the defendant tractor-trailer driver and $25,000 from the decedent’s employer, who hosted the party.
Attorney for the Plaintiff: Jonathan Koles of Koles, Burke & Bustillo, LLP in Jersey City, NJ.