South Park family to get $15.6 million in fatal drunken-driving case
A South Park family accepted a $15.6 million settlement offer stemming from a crash in which a drunken driver killed a 7-year-old girl and unborn baby, but the family's attorney said on Tuesday a “void will be there forever.”
Insurers for the South Side restaurant Hofbrauhaus and Travis Isiminger, 25, formerly of Greene County, agreed to pay the money, said Downtown attorney John P. Goodrich, who represents Nicole and Mark Cleland of South Park.
Lexa Cleland, 7, died instantly on Dec. 4, 2010, when her mother's Toyota Camry was struck by a Ford Mustang driven by Isiminger.
Nicole Cleland, who was pregnant at the time, suffered severe injuries, including a broken pelvis, and had a miscarriage. Cleland, 40, continues to use a cane and cannot work.
“No amount of money will replace the love of a daughter,” Goodrich said. “The money will help their family and be a legacy to Lexa, but the void will be there forever.”
Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Ronald W. Folino must approve the proposed settlement, Goodrich said. That could happen within days, he said. Folino did not return a call.
Isiminger drank at least six liters of beer and multiple shots of liquor before vomiting on a table, leaving the restaurant and getting into his car, Goodrich said. He was driving 67 mph in a 25-mph construction zone on East Carson Street when he slammed into the Clelands' car. His blood-alcohol content measured at 0.219 percent an hour after the crash, almost three times the legal limit.
Isiminger pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence and was sentenced to six to 12 years in prison.
In addition to the financial settlement, Goodrich said Hofbrauhaus agreed to issue a public apology and change its policies to try to prevent patrons from driving after becoming intoxicated at the restaurant.
Hofbrauhaus and its Downtown attorney, David McQuiston, did not return messages.
It's not clear how the settlement compares to ones in other liquor liability — or “dram shop” — cases. Pennsylvania lawyers advertising their successes in such cases generally cite damage awards ranging from $100,000 to $7.5 million. The Superior Court in 2005 upheld a reduced jury verdict of $37.5 million in a Philadelphia case.
Staff writer Brian Bowling contributed to this report. Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Letang leaves hospital, ‘day-to-day’ with concussion
- NFL coaches weigh in on Polamalu’s legacy
- Starkey: Next frontier for Steelers offense
- Shortfalls sabotage promise of union retirees’ pensions
- Pirates pitchers finding success with expanded strike zone
- South Side house part of former Steeler’s end game
- Alvarez latest in Pirates’ revolving door at first base
- Pirates notebook: Polanco’s power outburst a matter of timing
- From sticks to pucks, Mt. Pleasant collector wields power of the Pens
- GOP succeeding at down-ballot level
- Mt. Lebanon native, Iraq war hero’s action goes unrewarded