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Craig S. Laughlin, Esq of Gale & Laughlin LLP recently recovered $1,215,000 for the family of a 17-year-old girl in a wrongful death case. The claim resulted from a crash which occurred in Old Bridge on July 6, 2019. The girl was a passenger in her friend’s car. Their vehicle was struck by a drunk driver, and she was killed. The case was settled with payments by the driver of her car, the drunk driver and the two bars where it was alleged that the drunk driver was served while visibly intoxicated.

Details: On July 6, 2019, the deceased was a passenger in a car being driven by her friend, Jonathan Ortiz. They were traveling on Englishtown Road in Old Bridge. Their vehicle was struck from behind by a vehicle operated by Tristan Rodriguez. The Rodriguez vehicle was traveling at approximately 105 mph. The deceased was thrown from the vehicle and was declared dead at the scene. The drunk driver, Tristan Rodriguez was found to have a .193 Blood Alcohol Concentration. Rodriguez plead guilty to Aggravated Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide and is serving a 17-year prison sentence. Gale & Laughlin LLP filed suit against, the girl’s driver, Jonathan Ortiz; the drunk driver, Tristan Rodriguez; and the two bars where it was alleged that the drunk driver was served while visibly intoxicated, namely Antini’s Bar and Club 516 both located in Old Bridge. The driver of the girl’s car, Jonathan Ortiz, was named as a Defendant as it was alleged that he failed to secure her seatbelt. His insurance company paid their entire policy amount of $15,000. The drunk driver’s insurance company also paid its full policy amount of $100,000. Both bars vehemently argued that the drunk driver was not visibly intoxicated when he was in their establishments. However, videos from Antini’s Bar showed a bartender serving the drunk driver at least 8 drinks in less than two hours. In addition, the bartender at Antini’s testified that there was no doubt in her mind that Rodriguez was over the legal limit when she served him the last shot and beer at last call. Thereafter, the drunk driver drove to Club 516 where he had 1 or 2 more beers.

Gale & Laughlin, LLP relied on the expert report of toxicologist, Dr. John Brick, who concluded that the drunk driver was served alcohol at both bars while he was visibly intoxicated. Plaintiffs also relied on the Economic Loss Report of expert Kristin Kucsma, M.A. who testified that the economic loss resulting from the child’s death was between $1,142,000 and $1,589,000. Lastly, Plaintiffs relied on the testimony of forensic pathologist, Dr. Wayne K. Ross who testified that the girl was not killed instantly in the crash and that she experienced several seconds of conscious pain and suffering after the initial impact.

The case was resolved with payments from Antini’s Bar in the sum of $650,000 and from Club 516 in the sum of $450,000.

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