Midland, S.C.-Destiny Mills, 24, decision to get behind the wheel and drive despite her intoxicated death resulted in a fatal, early morning crash on I-26. As the result of her action, one 21-year-old woman, Olivia Johnson, has been killed, Destiny faces a felony DUI conviction, and currently has to wear a monitor that allows the court to see if she’s currently consuming any alcohol.
The crash ended what had been a night of bar hopping exploits that started at an Applebee’s restaurant before moving to the Carolina Ale House then it was onto the Wild Wing Café. The last establishment visited before the crash was the Bulldog Pub. The story doesn’t end there.
Now all four establishments have been named as the defendants in a wrongful death civil lawsuit filed by the victim’s father. It’s the belief of Olivia Johnson’s father and his legal team that her death could have been prevented if the employees at any of the four establishments had been paying attention to Destiny Mills condition and taken steps to ensure she didn’t get behind the wheel while she was intoxicated.
The lawsuit states, “the defendants … could have likely prevented the decedent’s death by calling a (cab) for Mills or otherwise ensuring that she did not drive an automobile from their premises.”
So far, each of the bars has refused to admit any guilt in the case.
“In legal circles, this type of wrongful death case is referred to as a dram shop lawsuit,” personal injury attorney Joseph Sandefur who represents one of South Carolina’s most successful personal injury firms at Joe and Martin, explains. “While these type of lawsuits aren’t allowed in some states, in South Carolina there’re not only allowed to be filed, but many have been successfully won by the plaintiffs and resulted in a large settlement.”
In the state of South Carolina, the law states that bars and restaurants can’t knowingly continue to sell alcohol to someone who is already drunk. The sticking point is the knowingly word. In order to win his case, the plaintiff’s legal team will need to prove that the defendant’s employees were aware of Mill’s intoxicated state.
These types of cases have proven costly to the businesses named as defendants in the case. A jury recently awarded the plaintiff a $3.8 million negligence verdict after they decided a local bar, the Loose Cockaboose, should have stopped serving a customer who left the bar, got into his car, and triggered an accident that resulted in a six-year-old girl’s death.
In another case, a local bar, Jake’s Bar & Grill, agreed to a $975,000, no admission of guilt settlement after they were named the defendant in a civil lawsuit case after son of Jim Carlen, the University of South Carolina’s late football coach, killed Justin Timmerman in a DUI accident after he left the bar.
If you were injured in a DUI accident or if someone you loved suffered a wrongful death in a DUI crash, you should contact a personal injury attorney and learn more about your civil rights.