A major “dram shop” case just settled in New York that could be a forerunner to similar cases across the country. The Giants Stadium and Aramark agreed to pay $25 million to settle the case of Antonia Verni, a girl paralyzed in a crash with a drunken football fan. Usually such settlements are not public, but this settlement was revealed at the request of a public advocacy group.
Verni couldn’t remain confidential because the girl’s privacy was trumped by the presumption of open court records and the public interest in her tragic case.
Verni, 10, a quadriplegic who needs a breathing tube after she was involved in a crash with Daniel Lanzaro, who drank heavily at a game before driving. Lanzaro testified later that vendors had served him while intoxicated — a common practice at sports stadiums. Previously, she had won a record $105 million in compensatory and punitive at a trial in 2005, but Aramark won a retrail Verni v. Lanzaro, A-1816-07. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversal was interesting because the court objected to the trial judge allowing testimony on “a culture of intoxication” at stadiums.
Here is the breakdown:
1. Verni and her mother Fazila received $19.5 million in cash and annuities to produce more than $60,000 a month for her life, guaranteed for 25 years even if she dies before then.
2. Lawyers who represented the family and served as court-appointed guardian will share most of the rest, with the lion’s share of $5.2 million going to plaintiff’s counsel David Mazie and his firm, Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman in Roseland.
3. Her court appointed guardian, Albert Burstein will receive $155,000 in fees and will fund a Medicare lien bargained down 25 percent to $71,000.
Dram shop liability judgments remain rare for stadiums due to the environment. The vendors are constantly moving around and often overlap with other vendors. Eye-witnesses tend to be less useful in the highly chaotic atmosphere of a game. Often different people will buy beer at different times. However, this case shows that liability can still be established even in this fluid environment.
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3 thoughts on ““Culture of Intoxication”: Giants Stadium Settles Dram Shop Case for $25 Million”
Giant is fortunate to settle this case for 25 million. If for any reason the previous case which granted them +100 mill to poor girl, who is paralyzed, may sets too high of reparation standard for “dram-shop” related cases. I’m glad this case didn’t go all the way to the supreme court. In case supreme court decides in favor of paraplegic girl, the effect of precedent to may cause all stadium alcohol beverage vendors to restrict sale to one beer per person. Well, who knows, the price per ticket may increase to subsidize for reeducation of all alcohol related employees. A higher ticket price and stricter regulation on alcohol consumption is a bad combination for businesses and for fans!!! I’m sorry, for the poor girl, but I think 25 mill is sufficient for her and the rest of her family.
I wonder how much of the funds were used as Medicare set asides. I suspect most people would be shocked at how little the victim and family actually gets to keep. It’s easy to blame the plaintiff’s lawyers but everyone forgets that if the defendant would pay a fair sum early in the claim, the lawyer’s fees and litigation costs could be substantially reduced.
I think the original $105 million judgement should have been affirmed. The only way to stop the abuse of alcohol at ballparks is by hurting them in their pocket books. I am not sure the $25 Million will be enough. Good luck to the young girl and her family. Even with the money, it will be a very tough life.
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