FanPost

hancock family lawsuit

as discussed in the game thread, josh hancock's family has sued mike shannon's, the manager at shannon's, the towing company, the tow truck driver, and the driver of the car the tow truck had stopped to help.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/stlouiscitycounty/story/B30B1CD42616DCDC862572E5005F04FC?OpenDocument

i'm not entirely clear on the facts, but it would seem like the family's claim against the tow truck and the driver of the car are pretty baseless - the lights were flashing; cars do break down on the road sometimes, even absent negligence; how was the broken-down car supposed to get off the road without a tow truck? etc.

negligence on the part of the car's driver could exist if something out of the ordinary happened - like, he knew the oil hadn't been changed for 20,000 miles, or a mechanic had told him a week before that the car was likely to break down or something. but it would have to be a situation like that, where the driver was careless.

for the tow truck driver (and the company, who would be liable to the extent the driver was), it's about how much warning was provided. flashing lights seems pretty reasonable, but if the industry standard is to do extra things - flares, road cones, whatever - and this particular driver didn't, that could lead to negligence, i guess.

in either case, car or truck driver, even if there were negligence, a judge/jury would have to find that that negligence was a proximate cause of josh's accident, rather than (or in addition to) the fact that josh was drunk, may have been on the phone, speeding, whatever else was going on.

the claims against shannon's and the manager, as discussed in the thread as well, are based on "dram shop" liability - the concept that a business that sells alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated is responsible for injuries later caused by that person.

the missouri dram shop statute is available here:

http://www.moga.mo.gov/statutes/C500-599/5370000053.HTM

as houstoncardinal mentioned in the thread, the missouri version of the law (dram shop laws vary a bit by state) only calls for liability in three situations:

1. the person served was under 21;
2. the person suing is a third party, not the drinker;
3. potentially, if the person was involuntarily intoxicated.

that third one is just a guess (i haven't looked at the whole area of MO law) based on the statute's specific bar to liability based on a person's own voluntary intoxication. what it means is, the fact pattern "hancock visibly drunk + shannon's keeps serving him + hancock dies" isn't enough to create liability. but the statute says nothing about involuntary. that's probably why the hancock family is claiming that "The intoxication of Joshua Morgan Hancock on said occasion was involuntary."

involuntary intoxication basically happens in one of two situations: either the guy was slipped something (ex: ghb), or the guy was forced to drink (ex: hazing). if either of those things happened to josh that night, it certainly hasn't been reported previously.

at this point, i'm honestly not sure what to even hope for here.

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