Three young men and a female companion, all in their early 20s, stopped at a small bar in central Pennsylvania shortly before closing at 2 a.m. The group had been consuming alcohol earlier that evening at various social locations but not at bars. A bar receipt reflected the group’s purchase of three beers, four shots and a mixed drink at 1:35 a.m. The tab was closed shortly before 2 a.m. A second receipt from takeout reflected the purchase of a 12-pack of Natural Light beer at 1:57 a.m. An exterior videotape showing the bar parking lot depicted the four young people walking to their vehicle with the 12-pack in tow and not showing signs of intoxication including stumbling, tripping or falling. The vehicle left the parking lot on video without speeding, spinning its wheels or fishtailing.

At the same time, less than 10 miles to the east, another young man, also in his early 20s, left his home to get coffee and gas at a local Wawa. This young man was single with a college degree and a good job. Notably, he was stone cold sober leaving his parents’ home at around 2 a.m. on a misty and foggy night, sharing the same winding country road as the bar group traveling in the opposite direction. At 2:17 a.m., a neighbor heard an “explosion” outside her home discovering two mangled vehicles and called 911 … the accident resulted in the deaths of both drivers, one intoxicated (.19 BAC) and one sober and the front seat passenger in the vehicle, which had just left the bar … both rear seat passengers in the bar vehicle survived but had no memory of how the accident happened. Long before the toxicology results were known, state police determined that the sober driver had crossed the center line in a heavy fog causing the accident. Nonetheless, the families of the sober driver and the deceased front seat passenger in the bar vehicle filed suit against the deceased drunk driver and the bar for violations of the Pennsylvania Dram Shop, i.e., serving the drunk driver at a time when he appeared visibly intoxicated.

Why Early Mediation?

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