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Wrongful death suit: drunk driver kills 3 in Lehigh Valley

After spending an undetermined number of hours drinking in and near Lehigh Valley, a drunk driver caused a car accident in Bethlehem Township that took the lives of three people on Jan. 28, 2010. The man, who has since pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from the incident, is currently serving 7.5 to 18 years in jail. The crash victims were returning from a wake when the man crashed into them while running a red light. All three victims were declared dead at the scene.

Following the prison sentence in early January, the families of two victims filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the now convicted man, as well as a number of other parties whose negligence is claimed to have contributed to the fatal accident. The two victims were passengers in the car struck by the drunk driver. The families have also sued a number of businesses that are claimed to have served the man alcohol prior to the accident under circumstances where they knew or should have known the man was drunk. The laws in Pennsylvania require those serving alcohol to cease service if the person appears drunk.

The at-fault driver had been part of a group outing, co-sponsored by the bar where he worked. They attended a hockey game in Reading on Jan. 27. It is alleged that the man was served numerous alcoholic beverages in a luxury suite at the Sovereign Center. Thereafter, the man apparently drank in a number of bars, including several in Lehigh Valley. Those establishments were named in the lawsuit, as was a man who was apparently supposed to act as a designated driver but left without doing so.

While it remains to be seen what the outcome of the wrongful death litigation will be, the families appear to be prepared to fight to hold all negligent parties fully accountable. A wrongful death action is appropriate when the negligent or reckless actions of another cause a fatality. While no amount of money can atone for the lives cut short, a favorable outcome may help provide the families some sense of justice for their loss while sending a message to others that drunk driving has grave consequences for all parties involved.

Source: The Express-Times, "Families of Anthony Bruno victims file wrongful death suit," Sara K. Satullo, Jan. 31, 2012

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