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Settlement approved in wrongful death suit against Joe Hardy

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 1:57 p.m.

A Fayette County judge has approved a $200,000 payout as partial settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of a teenager who died in a drunken-driving accident at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington.

The settlement calls for Daniel and Patricia Nelson to end their claims against resort founder Joseph Hardy and his daughter Paige in the wrongful death lawsuit. The lawsuit will continue against the resort and the driver.

The settlement was approved Friday by Judge John F. Wagner Jr.

The Nelsons' son, Zack, died five days after a teenage driver's vehicle hit a tree at the resort near Farmington on Sept. 10, 2011.

Police said the driver, Steven DiCenzo, then 17, of Uniontown had a blood-alcohol content of 0.136 percent.

Under Pennsylvania law, a teen driver is considered intoxicated at 0.02 percent.

The wrongful death lawsuit alleged Hardy was liable because he knew his daughter hosted underage drinking parties, including the one just before the fatal crash, but did nothing.

Paige Hardy was cleared of liability in August when a judge found that, under the state's “social host” doctrine, minors who give alcohol to other minors cannot be held liable.

The settlement calls for $93,510.19 paid to Zack Nelson's estate; $31,170.06 to the Nelsons; $58,275 to Thomas E. Crenney Associates for legal fees; and $17,044.75 to Crenney & Associates for reimbursable fees.

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