In late November, a Pennsylvania jury issued a $28 million verdict against a driver and the Pittsburgh Elks Lodge No. 11 in connection with a deadly DUI collision. In September 2009, a 26-year-old Munhall man attended an event at the lodge that included unlimited food and alcohol. As part of the bash, self-serve kegs of beer were apparently provided to guests. According to witnesses, no one from the social club monitored the kegs to ensure revelers were not too intoxicated to drive.
After leaving the event, the man reportedly struck a car that was carrying four people head-on as he sped down a nearby roadway. Sadly, the collision killed one and wounded three others. The deceased woman's boyfriend was apparently severely injured in the tragic wreck and died a few months later as a result of a pain medication overdose. According to local police, the man's blood alcohol level following the crash measured 0.226. He later pleaded guilty to drunken driving and is currently serving a two- to four-year prison sentence.
At trial, the estate of the decedents argued that the driver and the Elks Lodge both committed negligent acts that led to the fatal wreck. After listening to testimony from 43 witnesses over the course of about two weeks, the jury issued its $28 million verdict. One victim's estate received $7 million while the other's family was awarded $8.3 million. Jurors awarded the accident survivors a combined sum of approximately $1.4 million. According to jurors, the drunk driver was 60 percent responsible for the fatal DUI accident while the Elks Lodge was 40 percent at-fault. Interestingly, the jury ordered the social club to pay $10 million in punitive damages to be split between the plaintiffs.