$1.18 Million Jury Verdict – Parents Liable For Drunk Driving Adult Son
Our law firm has been instrumental in expanding liability to include persons who supplied alcohol or drugs to a drunk driver. In 1983 we obtained the first reported jury verdict in the United States that held the parents responsible for the actions of their adult child by providing alcohol to their adult son who then caused an accident. The jury found the parents guilty of negligent entrustment because they helped their adult son finance a loan on his “hopped-up” red Dodge Charger when they knew he had a bad driving record including 12 traffic citations, four previous accidents and a prior drunk driving charge. The parents then gave wine to their adult son who had a blood alcohol level of .12 before he drove recklessly at 80 mph on a residential street in Castro Valley, California, and broadsided our client’s Volkswagen, killing the driver and severely injuring the passenger. We obtained a jury verdict in excess of $1 million in Hayward, California, a very large verdict at that time. The jury also awarded punitive damages against the defendant driver. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) referred to this landmark case to educate the public about the dangers of providing alcohol to someone who will be operating a vehicle.