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New Kensington bar ordered to pay injured officer $644K

| Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, 11:33 p.m.

An Upper Burrell man has been awarded $644,000 in damages in a lawsuit against a New Kensington bar in connection with a 2011 crash that left him with serious injuries.

Ted Meixelsberger has not returned to work as a Lower Burrell police officer since the accident, attorney David Zimmaro of Pittsburgh said.

“We're very pleased … because we feel that this establishment needs to be held accountable for its actions,” Zimmaro said. “It was clearly negligence on its part.”

William Gallippi is listed in court documents as being the “official representative” of the Terrace Inn in New Kensington, which served alcohol to a New Kensington woman who later crashed into Meixelberger's patrol vehicle.

Gallippi was not represented by an attorney at an evidentiary hearing on Jan. 28. A phone number listed for the inn did not ring. A phone number listed for Gallippi in East Pittsburgh was disconnected.

Meixelsberger and his wife, Lori Meixelsberger, filed a lawsuit in January 2013 in Westmoreland County against the Terrace Inn and Jessica Blandford, 25.

Blandford served nine to 23 months in inpatient alcohol rehabilitation and the Westmoreland County Prison and has been making payments on $2,000 restitution ordered in connection with the April 18, 2011, crash, according to online court records.

Police said Blandford had been drinking at the Terrace Inn on April 17 and 18, 2011, before her vehicle crashed head-on into Meixelsberger's police sport-utility vehicle at 2:33 a.m. on Route 780 in New Kensington, about a mile from the bar. The lawsuit says Blandford “repeatedly asked the Terrace Inn (employees) to stop purchasing, serving and/or furnishing alcoholic beverages for her.”

Police said her blood-alcohol content was .177 percent, more than twice the legal limit for Pennsylvania drivers.

Meixelsberger sustained multiple leg injuries, including a tendon rupture, a kneecap fracture and loss of strength and range of motion.

A default judgement holding Terrace Inn liable was entered on April 4 when the establishment failed to respond to the civil complaint.

Judge Anthony Marsili reviewed evidence, including medical records and expenses totalling $39,000 and wages that Meixelsberger lost as a result of the crash totalling $270,000, according to his Feb. 6 order.

Marsili ordered Terrace Inn to pay Meixelsberger $300,000 for pain and suffering, $309,490 for economic damages and $35,000 for loss of consortium, according to court documents.

The civil complaint is pending against Blandford, Zimmaro said.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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