News & Events

Over $4 Million Recovered in Wrongful Death and Dram Shop Settlements with Two Shem Creek Bars

Posted: June 23, 2022

Yarborough Applegate attorneys have secured more than a $4 million settlement for their client in a wrongful death and dram shop case filed on behalf of the estate of a bicyclist killed by a drunk driver on the 4th of July in 2019 in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

On the day of the incident, the drunk driver spent nearly six hours drinking at two Shem Creek bars before getting into his vehicle and driving toward North Charleston late in the evening. Soon after getting behind the wheel, the intoxicated driver struck and killed our client’s father, who was in the crosswalk at the intersection of Chuck Dawley and Bowman Road on a bicycle. The driver fled the scene and got away but was arrested roughly a week later, thanks to a thorough police investigation and anonymous tips.

Following the incident, Yarborough Applegate attorneys Liam Duffy and David Yarborough filed a lawsuit against the drunk driver and the two bars responsible for over-serving him, which is illegal under South Carolina’s alcohol service (or “dram shop”) laws. However, because the drunk driver left the scene of the crime, his BAC on the night of the crash was never measured. This made proving a dram shop case difficult because it typically requires proof that the bars served alcohol to the driver even after they knew or should have known he had become intoxicated.

To determine the driver’s level of intoxication at the time of the collision—and at the time he was served—Duffy and Yarborough enlisted the help of experts, including a renowned toxicologist. Using the drunk driver’s bar receipts, security footage, cocktail recipes, food intake, and other pertinent information, our expert was able to confidently approximate that the drunk driver had a BAC of 0.20 at the time he left the first bar, and a BAC above 0.30 at the time of the crash—well above the 0.08 legal limit.

The case was heavily contested throughout and included many motions and court hearings. Both bars argued that they did not “knowingly” over-serve the defendant and attempted to shift all blame to the driver and the decedent. Additionally, the defense sought to minimize the relationship between our client and her father (and the loss she felt following his death) in an attempt to reduce the damages to be paid.

Our lawyers contested all of these liability and damage defenses and successfully held the bars and the drunk driver fully accountable. The case was settled for $4,025,000 just a few days before it was set to go to a jury trial, and after nearly three years of litigation.

Read more about the case in South Carolina Lawyers Weekly here.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of drunk driving, we’re here to help. Contact us today.

Disclaimer: Every case is unique, and prior results do not guarantee future outcomes.

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