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Lawsuit Names Martell’s for a Fatal Crash Leaving a Driver Permanently Disabled – Who’s at Fault? [POLL]

 Flickr user: Kelly Schott
Flickr user: Kelly Schott

Whenever you hear a story of a bar patron drinking themselves into a stupor, then leaving a bar and causing an accident, you probably think that the “personal responsibility” is on the patron.

Fact is, legally, the bar bears the responsibility for making sure you’re not a danger to anyone else. So if you’re leaving and appear to have had too many drinks, or if the bartender notices you’ve had too many; it’s on them to stop you.

That’s why Martell’s Tiki Bar in Point Pleasant Beach is being sued by a woman who, while driving home from her job, was hit head on by another woman going in the wrong direction on Route 18, completely “s-faced”, after having spent a day of drinking at the bar.

She, unfortunately, died in the accident; but the woman who was merely driving home has been left with permanent injuries requiring her to live in an assisted living facility.

As you’d imagine, the bar’s being sued along with others who may have played a role in the drunken woman’s leaving the bar and driving off inebriated.

According to this:

Dana S. Corrar “sustained severe and permanent multiple bodily injuries” and requires long-term hospitalization as a result of the Aug. 16 crash, according to the suit, which was filed Thursday in Middlesex County.

Ashley Chieco, 26, was traveling the wrong way on Route 18 South when she slammed into Corrar, who was driving home about 6 p.m. from her job as a nurse in Ewing Township.
Corrar, 55, broke nearly every bone in her body, underwent multiple surgeries and now lives in an assisted living facility.

Chieco died of her injuries.

A police investigation revealed Chieco spent hours at Martell’s Tiki Bar, downing screwdrivers and vodka shots before stealing a 2011 Hyundai Tucson from a valet parking lot next to the bar.

The Hyundai belonged to Peter and Carolyn Narepecha, who told police they had been instructed by valet staff to leave their keys in the vehicle before spending the day on the beach.

A medical examiner determined Chieco’s blood-alcohol level was over the legal limit for driving at the time of her death.

The suit states Chieco was visibly intoxicated at Martell’s and that employees failed to monitor the situation, causing an unreasonable risk of harm to the public and to Corrar.
In addition to the bar, the lawsuit names the owners of the parking lot, claiming they failed to properly monitor, secure, supervise and safeguard the lot and vehicles parked there.

The lawsuit cites “gross negligence, carelessness and recklessness” on Ashley Chieco’s part as a contributing factor in the injuries suffered by Corrar.

She was a crisis counselor with a master’s degree who taught psychology at Bergen Community College and worked as a supervisor at the Mental Health Association of New York City. Her parents told police their daughter planned to pursue a doctorate degree.

Chieco had lost about 25 pounds in the year preceding the accident and decided to head out to the beach – a rare day out – with a friend from work.

The co-worker picked her up in the morning and the two (headed to the shore.)
The friend told police they had not eaten all day and that Ashley consumed alcohol in the morning and afternoon.

Chieco’s credit card receipt shows she ordered her first drink – a screwdriver – at 11:07 a.m., police said.
She drank the vodka-orange juice mix, along with vodka shots.

As the friend paid her bar tab late in the afternoon, Ashley Chieco walked out of Martell’s and drove away in a vehicle that did not belong to her.

So, according to the lawsuit, the bar’s on the hook for allowing Chieco to leave visibly intoxicated, and the parking lot’s on the hook for allowing keys to be left in cars supposedly unattended.

Just wondering if anyone else should be a party to the lawsuit?

How about the friend who drove Chieco to the bar in the first place? Wouldn’t you think she would have known how much Chieco had to drink, along with the fact that she knew her friend had nothing to eat all day?

I know, it’s crazy. But in the end, someone pays.

Who in your opinion pays? The bar? The parking lot? The friend? All 3? None of the above?

We, in a perfect world, would like Chieco to have been the only one responsible. But that’s not the way it works today.

Judging by past cases like this, the bar’s gonna have to pay. Anyone else, who knows?

Posse Poll below.

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