$2.9M Settlement for Family in Wrongful Death Suit Against Drunk Driver

Maginnis Howard is a high stakes North Carolina personal injury and wrongful death litigation firm. Our lawyers handle cases involving catastrophic bodily injuries and the deaths of loved family members due to the negligence or intentional acts of third-parties. A recent case provides an example of our diligence in pursuing justice for our clients. Since 2015, Maginnis Howard attorney Shawn Howard has represented the young parents of a beautiful 6 year old gi­­rl who was taken from them by the reprehensible actions of an irresponsible underage drunk driver. The firm recovered a total settlement of $2,930,952 for the family but, far more importantly than the money involved, made sure that each company or person who the family felt contributed to the underage drunk driver’s intoxication bore some responsibility for the settlement. As you might expect, only the drunk driver ever faced any time in prison.

After initially filing the parents’ lawsuit against the underage drunk driver and the two bars who illegally served him alcohol even though the driver’s license he used did not have his photograph, the firm added several additional defendants. In total, over 15 individuals and entities were named as defendants in the lawsuit for their roles in contributing to the underage drunk driver’s intoxication. At the time of the crash, the drunk driver was under the influence of substantial quantities alcohol and marijuana which had been binge consumed at his apartment, his fraternity house, a friend’s apartment, and two local bars.

After years of litigation, the case finally settled one month prior to trial in mid-2018. The final settlement was obtained approximately one month after Court-ordered mediation had reached an impasse (meaning the parties had not agreed to a settlement).

A number of experts were hired to assist with the presentation of the case and preparation for trial, including:

  • A “dram shop” expert from Florida to opine about the responsibilities of restaurants and bars to prevent the sale of alcohol to underage and intoxicated customers and the breaches of those safety rules in this case;
  • A medical doctor from Colorado with expertise in toxicology to opine about the drunk driver’s likely state of intoxication at the time of service of alcohol throughout the night. The doctor was also called upon to testify regarding the “synergistic” affects between alcohol and marijuana;
  • A second medical doctor from Virginia, who also had a pharmacy degree, with expertise in toxicology to opine about the drunk driver’s likely state of intoxication at the time of service of alcohol throughout the night; and,
  • A fraternity management expert from the University of Kentucky to testify regarding proper procedures and rules for college fraternities to follow.

The firm also retained a local video company to put together a mediation video compiling photographs and videos of the little girl narrated by her parents. Throughout the case, the firm participated in dozens of depositions and survived multiple “dispositive motions” by some of the defendants, including a “Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss” and “Summary Judgment Motion.” Despite their efforts, no defendant ever obtained a dismissal of the case against them by the Court. The firm also arranged for multiple focus groups to learn how best to present the case for the jury’s consideration.

If you believe you have a case regarding wrongful death, drunk driver or other personal injury matters, don’t hesitate to reach out to our firm at (919) 526-0450. You can also send us an email at info@maginnishoward.com or submit a request through our contact page.