Lower Burrell officer sues over DUI accident
A Westmoreland County man is seeking more than $30,000 in damages from a woman who crashed into his police car and from the New Kensington business that served her alcohol for four hours prior.
Ted Meixelsberger and his wife, Lori Meixelsberger, both of Upper Burrell, filed a lawsuit Monday in the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas against Terrace Inn and Jessica Blandford, 24, of New Kensington.
“While a patron at the Terrace Inn on (April 17 and 18, 2011), Blandford repeatedly asked the Terrace Inn (employees) to stop purchasing, serving and/or furnishing alcoholic beverages for her,” according to court documents.
But those requests were not heeded, Meixelsberger alleged, and at approximately 2:33 a.m. on April 18, Blandford's vehicle crashed head-on into Meixelsberger's Lower Burrell patrol car along Route 780.
Blandford pleaded guilty and has been serving a six-month sentence in Westmoreland County Prison since September. Investigators said her blood-alcohol content was .177 percent, more than twice the legal limit for drivers.
Meixelsberger sustained multiple leg injuries, including a tendon rupture, a kneecap fracture and loss of strength and range of motion.
Meixelsberger cites past and future pain, suffering, physical limitations, medical bills, and loss of earnings and earnings capacity as damages.
The business owner could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon and an employee said he couldn't take a message.
According to the lawsuit, Blandford arrived at the Terrace Inn on East Hill Drive at 10 p.m. on April 17, 2011. She remained there until after 2 a.m., and “she was served an excessive number of alcoholic beverages,” the suit states.
“Blandford exhibited noticeable signs of visible intoxication but was continued to be served alcohol” which Meixelsberger states is in violation of the state's Dram Shop Act, which holds a business or individual who gives alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person responsible for damages that person might cause.
The accident occurred within one mile of the tavern, the suit states.
“Terrace Inn did not notify law enforcement authorities when Blandford left the premises, so as to alert the public to the danger they were unleashing upon the public in general and ... Meixelsberger in particular,” the suit claims.
Meixelsberger claims that the Terrace Inn was not certified in the state Liquor Control Board's Responsible Alcohol Management Program and didn't adequately provide training to employees.
State records show Bernadett Mary Gallippi is the president of the business and Joseph A. Vinansky is the treasurer. Both list the inn's address as their own; phone numbers for them could not be located.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.