Underage bartending leads to wrongful death lawsuit

Social hosts, in addition to bars and restaurants, may be held legally responsible in Ohio for injuries caused by serving alcohol to minors or intoxicated guests. In a recent case, the father of a 19-year-old who was killed in a drunk driving car crash filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the party host who hired her as a bartender at his private party.

The defendant held the party at his family's private residence in Copley on February 27, 2016. In addition to the crash victim, he hired another minor and a 21-year-old to tend bar. According to the lawsuit, the victim and other bartenders served drinks to party guests and drank alcohol themselves.

The victim and another bartender left that party in a car around 8:00 p.m. to purchase cigarettes. The bartender drove the vehicle at excessive speed. Around 8:30 p.m., he lost control of the car, which went off the left side of the road and hit a ditch and some trees. The car flipped over and rested on its roof.

The occupants were pronounced dead at the accident scene. The other bartender and driver had a blood alcohol level of 0.148 and the presence of marijuana in his blood, according to the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office. The legal limit for alcohol is 0.08.

In his lawsuit filed in the Summit County Common Pleas Court, the victim's father claimed that the defendant and party host did not properly supervise the bartenders that he hired. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendant should have stopped his daughter from getting in a car with the intoxicated driver. The lawsuit is seeking undetermined damages and her wages for working at the party.

The victim had just begun nursing school when the car crash occurred. She also worked as a server in a local restaurant.

An attorney can help seek compensation for families who lose a loved one in a fatal accident caused by another person's negligence, recklessness or illegal conduct. They can help obtain the proof to prevail in these actions and advocate for the surviving family members in settlement negotiations and court.

Source: Akron Beacon Journal, "Father of Copley teen killed in drunk-driving crash files wrongful-death lawsuit," Stephanie Warsmith, March 2, 2018

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