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Friday, August 04, 2006 

Beer Vendor Verdict Overturned

I spotted this interesting case coverage over at How Appealing. A New Jersey appeals court has overturned a lower court decision that awarded $105 million to the family of a girl paralyzed in a car crash. The girl's family sued Aramark, the concessions company, for overserving a drunken fan at a New York Giants game in the late 90's. The fan then drove drunk and caused the crash that paralyzed the then-two year old girl...
The family claimed that vendors for Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp. continued to sell beer to Daniel Lanzaro during a 1999 New York Giants game even though he was clearly drunk, and that the concessionaire fostered an atmosphere in which intoxicated patrons were able to still buy alcohol.
The article describes the condition that Lanzaro was in...
Lanzaro - who had a blood-alcohol level of .226, nearly three times the legal limit - testified he bought six beers at halftime even though he said he had already drunk at least six during the first half and was slurring his speech.
After finishing of his dozen beers at the game, he then went to two more bars before ultimately causing the car crash. With a BAC that high, I'm surprised he could even walk.

The appeals court overturned the decision on an evidence technicality, but there was no quarrel with the final dollar amount. It still goes back to the lower court...
The appeals court also said that jurors should not have been told that they could consider and provide compensation for the girl's shortened life expectancy. An economist had testified that the girl will need $42 million worth of care over the rest of her life.

However, the court said a new jury can consider whether other defendants previously excluded can also be held responsible in the case. Those defendants include the National Football League, two bars where Lanzaro drank after the game and a friend of Lanzaro's who drank with him on the day of the accident.
Over the years, we have seen the legal duty in situations like this grow and grow. It's horrible that the girl was paralyzed, but there is something about this that makes me uncomfortable. I guess I'm a bit of a personal responsibility nut who doesn't think it should be everyone else's duty to regulate how much this guy drank.

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