We wrote about this case of social host liability in the last issue. Now, a jury has heard a lawsuit arising out of the incident. George Baldwin was awarded a record jury verdict as a result of his being paralyzed in a car accident following the underage drinking party in a private home three years ago. A jury found that the insurance company of William Klairmont, who was driving drunk during the single-vehicle crash, will be responsible for $33.2 million in damages. Patrick Salvi, the lawyer who represented the Plaintiff in the case, says:
The outcome in this case is the recognition by a Lake County jury that George has suffered a tremendous loss. The jury did the right thing. This verdict will take care of George’s medical needs for the rest of his life so that he can live as full a life as possible in the face of physical disabilities.
Since Klairmont admitted fault in the case, the trial was only on damages. We wrote last month about the $2.5 million settlement paid by the homeowners’ insurance carrier. Lauralee Pfeifer was accused of failing to prevent the drinking party at her home hosted by her teenage daughters. It appears that, despite numerous opportunities to step in and stop the drinking that occurred in an upstairs bedroom, Mrs. Pfeifer did nothing to prevent the drinking party from continuing. The teenagers left the home after Mrs. Pfeifer’s husband returned later that evening. Baldwin was riding as a passenger with Klarimont, who was 19 at the time of the crash. The driver had been drinking heavily at the Pfeifer home that night and crashed his car.
Baldwin was not charged with underage drinking, but, Klarimont was cited for a DUI after registering a blood-alcohol level of .146. A black box inside the car indicated his vehicle was traveling 120 miles per hour just seconds before the crash. Baldwin wound up being paralyzed from the chest down. The vehicle Klairmont was driving was borrowed by his father’s employer from a second family corporation. It’s believed this will result in Baldwin being able to collect much, if not all, of the jury’s verdict. This tragic case should be a lesson to persons who allow teenagers to drink in their home. Drunk drivers are a real problem on our highways and young drivers are a major part of the problem. Adults have a responsibility in cases such as this one to control drinking in the home.
Source: Lake County News-Sun