Million Dollar Settlement for On-the-Job Drinking Case

The Atlanta wrongful death attorneys at Sammons & Carpenter know that there are often different factors in a fatal car accident. This blog has discussed dram shop laws and liability for establishments serving alcohol before (see here), but these tragedies continue.

There was news of yet another settlement in a lawsuit of this nature for a company, Neighborhood Dining Group. Inc., based in Marietta, Georgia. The company owns the Charleston, SC fine-dining establishment, Husk; one of the area’s best restaurants. It has even been acclaimed as the “Best New Restaurant in America” by Bon App├ętit magazine and as one of the best places to eat by Newsweek. However, it was also the restaurant where an assistant manager/sommelier, Adam Burnell, was drinking at work before leaving, something that many claim is endemic in restaurant worker culture. He left Husk at 4:00 AM with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit when he allegedly rammed his Audi into the back of Quentin Miller’s Mustang. The impact slammed Mr. Miller’s car into a concrete wall and caused the car to erupt in flames, trapping Mr. Miller inside. He died at the scene, and now Mr. Burnell is charged with felony driving under the influence.

Once again, the story does not end there. Mr. Miller’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Husk and its owners, without even naming Mr. Burnell as a defendant. The family alleged that Husk allowed Mr. Burnell to drink on their premises after hours and then to drive drunk. Neighborhood Dining told reporters that its insurer agreed last month to pay a $1.1 million settlement to the Miller family, while still denying fault or liability for the accident. The president of the company, David Howard, stated that policies already prohibit employee drinking on restaurant premises in Charleston and Atlanta. He said, “I’ve had a policy in place since 1991. No consumption of alcohol is to be allowed. I don’t believe that staff should consume alcohol in the workplace, period. The policy states that at (our) restaurants you cannot drink in the workplace. Other statements have been made to the contrary, but that is a clear policy.”wine.jpg

Despite Neighborhood Dining’s assertions of its long-standing rule, there is clearly still drinking by employees occurring at their restaurants, as well as at many others. A spokeswoman and vice-president of public policy for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, J.T. Griffin, said he understood this to be a pretty common occurrence. Others note that the prohibition rules are good in theory, but in reality, hardly enforced.

If you or someone in your family has been hurt or killed by a drunk driver, the Georgia Auto Accident and Wrongful Death lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter can help you determine if you have a case and how to move forward with possible legal options. These cases show that the situation may be more complex, with other liable players involved than just the at-fault driver, and legal advice is crucial to understanding your case. Please call us at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Georgia Drunk Driving Suit Results in Liability For Bar
Companies Seeing Liability for Employees’ Distracted Driving