By Jennie Reedy
Kansas City, Missouri based Applebee’s has recently settled a civil lawsuit in which the parents of Abdallah Khader were seeking $10 million in damages. The plaintiff’s accused employees of the Applebee’s restaurant in Mansfield Texas of serving a patron 23 alcoholic beverages in less than two hours. Law enforcement officers determined that Stewart Richardson had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of three times the legal limit at the time of the hit and run accident. The Khader family was stopped at a red light when Richardson’s pickup truck slammed into the back of their car. The vehicle contained two-year old Abdallah Khader and his parents, Loubna Elhazarin and Fahad Khader.
The boy who is now six years old suffered severe damage to his brain leaving him in a vegetative state. The child will never be able walk, talk, sit up or stand and requires 24-hour medical care. The lawsuit was seeking $10 million to cover these expenses along with damages for mental anguish, pain and suffering and lost future earning potential. Although the case was settled, the amount of the settlement remains confidential.
The Texas Dram Shop Act
During the investigation into the drunk driving accident, receipts were obtained from Applebee’s restaurant showing that the defendant had paid for almost two-dozen alcoholic beverages during a two-hour time span. Under the Texas Dram Shop Act, any establishment that has a liquor license to serve or sell alcoholic beverage can be sued for damages if they over-serve a patron. In order for a civil action to be successful under the Texas Dram Shop Act, the plaintiff must be able to prove the following:
• The defendant who later caused the accident was obviously intoxicated and presented a clear danger
• That the defendant’s level of intoxication was the proximate cause of the accident resulting in injuries
The State of Texas first passed dram shop legislation back in 1987. The Texas Dram Shop Act allows injured plaintiffs to file a lawsuit against liquor establishments if they contributed to an accident caused by drunk driving.
The Defendant Had Prior Convictions
Although the defendant, Stewart Richardson had seven convictions for driving while intoxicated (DWI), his attorneys argued that these previous convictions were only misdemeanor offenses. If they had been prosecuted as felony offenses, prosecutors could have obtained a life sentence against the defendant. The Khader family was successful in getting the Abdallah Khader Act passed. This new law increases the penalties for DWI offenses increasing the prison time from 10 to 20 years in cases where the victim was left in a vegetative state.