May 30, 2007
Father of Drunk Driver Sues Restaurant For Son's Death
Howard Wasserman has an interesting post over at Sports Law Blog about a case filed last week by the father of a St. Louis Cardinals pitcher against a restaurant (Mike Shannon's Steaks and Seafood), the driver of a stalled car and a towing company for their alleged roles in his son's death. A copy of the complaint is available from KMOV in St. Louis.
Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was killed last April when his car collided with a tow truck that was assisting a disabled car. Prior to the accident, Josh Hancock had been drinking at Mike Shannon's. In the lawsuit, Hancock's father, Noel Dean Hancock, alleges that the restaurant violated Missouri's dram shop law by continuing to serve Josh even though he was visibly intoxicated. The complaint also brings negligence claims against the tow truck company and stalled car driver. Notably, reports indicate that Josh was drunk, speeding, and talking on his cell phone with his girlfriend at the time of the crash. (Check out Wasserman's post for links to several stories about the accident and lawsuit).
Wasserman provides a thorough analysis of the unlikely success of the dram shop count and the likely comparative fault defenses on the negligence counts against the tow truck and stalled car driver. Beyond that, Wasserman raises an interesting point about the tort system: Is this case a frivolous lawsuit clogging our system or a dispute best resolved by a jury?
(Note to TortsProfs: The case also may provide some good facts for exam time -- save this idea away for next year).
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