Rockingham Jury awards $200k punitive damages in DUI case

And +$80k for compensatory damages.  Drunk collided head on with a vehicle that a high school student was riding in. Somewhat old news (Oct. 31, 2008 verdict), but I just read the Lawyers Weekly from 12/22/08. Defendant’s BAC was measured at 0.32 (4x the level at which one is considered impaired?). When asked at the scene whether he had been drinking, he reportedly replied “Oh, hell yeah.” At trial, he admitted that he still drank alcohol, still drove his car, and had no desire to seek treatment, despite two previous DUIs. Plaintiff offered to settle for $75k, but insurance only offered $55k. The defense argued that the drunk had already been “punished” enough, having served a 30 day jail sentence, and paid his criminal fines and attended VASAP, and had his license restricted until 2010.  Plaintiff’s lawyer was Brian K. Brake for those of you up there who need a good lawyer in Harrisonburg.  WTG Mr. Brake and Rockingham jury!

P.S. Now the little whiner who got popped for such a large verdict is complaining that it is too high and that he can never pay it off.    He has asked the judge to set the verdict aside and award him a new trial.  Should have thought about that before you drank and drove.

4 responses to “Rockingham Jury awards $200k punitive damages in DUI case

  1. Did he have insurance???

  2. Yes, $50,000. Evidently she had “underinsured motorist coverage” in excess of that. His insurer offered their limits of $50k, but her own insurance only offered $5k. I’m guessing from her offer that she had another $50k.

    p.s. you cannot bankrupt a judgment against you that was based in part on driving under the influence. She will own him for the next 50 years. She can garnish his wages, his bank account, all kinds of neat tricks. But in practical effect he will probably learn to be a dead-beat and just not have a bank account or a regular job.

  3. What are the chances the verdict will be set aside? I’m betting 0%. He deserved what he got and more.

  4. I think the chances are slim but not impossible. The judge has discretion to set it aside following a certain formula if it “shocks his conscience.” So a lot depends on the judge. But I can think of at least one case with similar facts that went to the Sup Ct and was not set aside. Also, punitive damages can not be disproportionate to compensatory damages.

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