Huge Verdict In Dallas Cowboy Death Case

$25 Million Awarded In DWI Crash

JFK-Memorial-with-Dallas-County-Courthouse-behind-itLate yesterday the jury found that the night club that over-served former Dallas Cowboy Josh Brent was equally responsible with Brent and awarded a huge verdict of $25 million. Each of the defendants was found to be 48 percent at fault. The Dallas Cowboy who tragically died, Jerry Brown, Jr., was held to be four percent to blame. The money will be paid to Brown’s mother and his estate.

Punitive damages were almost awarded but the verdict must be unanimous and one of the twelve jurors did not vote for the additional award.
The car accident in the early morning hours on December 8, 2012 occurred six minutes after Brent and Brown left Beamers private club after they had been drinking there for several hours. Brent was driving his new Mercedes at a speed of 110 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone when he lost control on Highway 114 in Irving and his car flipped upside down.

Brent’s blood alcohol content was .18%, more than two times the legal limit in Texas. An expert for the plaintiffs testified that a man as large as Brent would have had to have consumed a shocking 17 alcoholic beverages.

Jurors rejected the arguments of the bar and its management company that Brent was intoxicated either before he entered the club or after he left.

The defense produced two servers who testified that Brent did not appear to be obviously intoxicated. However surveillance video showed him ordering three bottles of champagne and drinking from a bottle and serving himself in violation of club rules. At trial on Monday, Brent could not remember how many drinks he had consumed.

The club’s attempt to blame the passenger also failed.

Texas Dram Shop and Driving While Intoxicated Law

Bars, restaurants, stores, and other establishments that sell alcohol have a legal duty to not serve alcohol to customers who are obviously intoxicated.
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The Texas Dram Shop Act is codified in Chapter Two of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. It permits patrons, their estates, or the victims of drunk drivers who are crashed into to receive monetary damages.
Even so, too many restaurants and bars over-serve their customers, which is what happened at Beamers that night. Hopefully the message from verdicts like this one will curtail their deadly practices.
More information about the case and Texas law regulating alcohol providers is here.

Innocent people who are seriously injured or die as the result of car crashes caused by intoxicated drivers must be punished. Filing a criminal case is the obvious choice but is not the only recourse. Often the drunk driver is placed on probation, which is the sentence handed down to Brent.

At Berenson Injury Law, our legal team has seen far too many examples of the devastating impact that drunk driving has on innocent motorists.

The mother of the deceased Cowboy said that she wanted to try to prevent this tragedy from happening to other families. Her attorney, Charla Aldous, reiterated this point:
“I hope that this sends a message to bars – especially bars that do bottle service – to say if they’re going to undertake that type of business, they need to do it safely. They need to protect the public. They need to make sure that their patrons aren’t being served drinks when they’re intoxicated. And our hope and prayer is that, through this verdict, it may save a life in the future.”
We wholeheartedly agree. Congratulations to the plaintiffs’  lawyers for their excellent work.

Further, it is often said by insurance company adjusters that juries in Dallas and Fort Worth are not capable of awarding substantial verdicts. This Dallas case and others proves them wrong.

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