On Tuesday, September 20th, a DeKalb County jury returned a $1.75 million verdict against an Atlanta strip club for its role in a fatal 2008 collision.
On Labor Day weekend three years ago, 41-year-old Otis South of Mableton drove the wrong direction down I-20 with a blood alcohol level of 0.398. Calls from drivers soon went out to emergency dispatchers, but before police could stop him, South crashed head-on into a car driven by 22-year-old Fatima Bird.
Bird, a mother of two, and her passenger Melisa Sinkfield were killed, along with South. Bird and South died at the scene of the wreck and Sinkfield died while being transported by emergency responders. Another driver, Keonda Brown of Carrollton, was also involved in the wreck; she was the sole survivor.
It was later discovered the South had recently been drinking at Club Blaze, a Conley strip club, before the crash. According to the attorney for Bird’s family, the exact number of drinks served to South at the club was never determined. Nevertheless, it was proven at trial that the club wrongfully over-served south, violating its duty of care to the community.
South’s blood alcohol content, almost five times the legal limit of 0.08, was at a level often causing loss of consciousness, loss of bladder control, decreased breathing, coma, and even death. In other words, his level of intoxication was far beyond that which might go unnoticed by others and so high, in fact, that most would be unable to operate a vehicle at all.
Bird’s mother spoke to the media and stated that the money would be used to send Bird’s four- and five-year-old daughters to college.
Drunk driving has devastating effects both for those injured or killed by drunk drivers and for their families. Our trial attorneys can help families put their lives back together after suffering serious injuries. Though money cannot reverse catastrophic injury or replace lost loved ones, it can provide security to families who have been harmed by others and allow them to try to rebuild their lives.
Page Pate is an accomplished trial lawyer with over 25 years of experience in criminal defense, civil litigation, and whistleblower representation. Page is listed in The Best Lawyers in America, Top 100 Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers, and named to the list of Super Lawyers for the past 15 consecutive years. Page is a frequent expert legal analyst for local and national media and has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Georgia Law School. Read Page’s reviews on AVVO. Follow Page on Twitter @pagepate and on Linkedin.