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$10.5 million awarded to family in wrongful death lawsuit

While the following story did not occur here in Alaska, the legal matters involved make it important for local readers.

A few years ago, a young woman in Texas was attending a friend's party at a strip club. As she left the club in the early morning hours, another patron was preparing to leave as well. He had consumed about 10 drinks or shots in the 4-hour span he was at the establishment, and got behind the wheel of his "monster truck." Sadly, he ran over the young woman, resulting in her untimely death.

The police arrested the drunk man at the scene and he is currently serving nine years in jail.

The incident is extremely tragic, and the woman's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit. However, it was not against the individual who ran their daughter over -- it was against the strip club for continually serving the man and then allowing him to drive home. The lawsuit recently concluded, with a jury unanimously awarding a $10.5 million judgment to the family.

The first of three things to note about this story is that when a drunk driving accident happens, the victims can pursue dram shop liability against the establishment where the drunk driver consumer alcohol.

The second thing to note here is that even though the family has not formally pursued civil action against the man who ran over their daughter, it does not mean that they won't in the future. In many cases similar to this, the victimized family has to await the conclusion of an investigation or for more evidence to come out before they can pursue such a lawsuit.

Third and finally, parties that file wrongful death lawsuits and win can expect for their victory to be challenged by the defendants. The strip club in this case says they will be appealing the ruling. When this happens, sometimes the award can be reduced.

Source: NBC DFW, "Strip Club Must Pay $10.5M in Monster Truck Death," Ellen Goldberg, Feb. 21, 2013

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