$11 Million Dram Shop Settlement That Holds Bars Accountable

In a recent case where our client was tragically injured by a drunk driver, Mark Bringardner reached a landmark settlement with the establishment that overserved the intoxicated driver. The resolution of this case underscores the critical importance of holding irresponsible establishments accountable if they disregard the law and sell alcohol to grossly intoxicated customers.

The Incident

In August 2018, our client was crossing the street in a marked crosswalk with the walk signal activated. She was hit by a drunk driver who fled the scene, only to return on foot moments later. The driver, visibly intoxicated, initially denied both hitting our client and being under the influence. Law enforcement, however, documented his gross intoxication, and he failed all field sobriety tests. Despite refusing a breathalyzer test, the evidence was undeniable: the driver was drunk and a danger to everyone on the road.

The drunk driver had spent his evening drinking at two establishments. He started at a restaurant (Establishment 1) where he consumed alcohol before and during dinner. He then drove to a second location with a lively bar (Establishment 2), where he continued drinking heavily. Establishment 2 claimed that their receipts showed the drunk driver had only purchased one drink, and that lone receipt became a focal point in the investigation.

However, based on video recordings and other evidence, it was apparent that the driver had consumed far more alcohol than both establishments admitted. Mr. Bringardner conducted an extensive investigation involving multiple depositions and motions to uncover the truth. Establishment 2’s persistent claims of only serving one drink fell apart when critical evidence that was previously hidden revealed that the driver had consumed significantly more alcohol at their Established just before the crash.

The Settlement Breakthrough

Two days after jury selection and on the brink of trial, Establishment 2 disclosed, for the first time, that the drunk driver had indeed purchased far more alcohol than previously admitted. New evidence showed that the driver had multiple bar tabs open at the same time. In fact, the driver consumed three or four times the amount reflected in the sole receipt initially produced. This evidence was only revealed because our team was about to perform a forensic examination of Establishment 2’s point-of-sale software.

Faced with undeniable evidence of the unsafe, overservice of alcohol, which violated state law and all industry standards, Establishment 2’s insurance carrier increased their settlement offer to $11 million, more than 5X the amount before the concealed evidence was discovered. This resolution came shortly before a hearing to request sanctions against the establishment for concealing evidence. Our client, who suffered severe injuries, including traumatic brain injury, a broken back, multiple fractures, and post-traumatic stress disorder, will receive compensation to cover her extensive medical needs and lifelong care.

The Impact of the Settlement and Legal Implications

This case highlights the importance of South Carolina’s dram shop laws, which hold commercial sellers of alcohol accountable for over-serving alcohol to individuals that the establishment knew, or should have known, were drunk. The settlement obtained by Bringardner Injury Law Firm sends a clear message: bars and restaurants must serve alcohol responsibly to prevent the dangers posed by drunk drivers. If they decide to break the law simply to make more money selling alcohol, they bear some of the responsibility and will be held accountable. 

Our client’s journey from victim to advocate for justice exemplifies the resilience and determination needed to hold wrongdoers accountable. At Bringardner Injury Law Firm, we remain dedicated to fighting for the rights of individuals harmed by the reckless actions of others, especially those who profit from putting the public in danger.

Your Trusted Drunk Driving Accident Attorney

Our experienced drunk driving accident attorneys are here to help you seek the justice and compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, contact us at 843-380-5299 or contact us online.

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