Horrific Crash Puts Spotlight On Dram Shop Laws

6:20 PM, Nov 24, 2012   |    comments
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Charlotte, NC -- A heartbreaking drunken driving crash in Charlotte that critically injured a young couple and killed their unborn child and the intoxicated driver spotlights a set of laws designed to prevent bars and restaurants from serving alcohol to intoxicated patrons.

Matt Eastridge and his wife, Meredith, who was six months pregnant, were driving home on Oct. 29, 2010, when police say David Huffman, who had a blood-alcohol content almost three times the legal limit and was driving more than 100 mph, slammed into their car. Huffman, 25, was leaving Eddie's Place Restaurant and Bar in south Charlotte, where he had been served at least 10 drinks.

This month, a Charlotte jury returned a $1.7 million verdict against Eddie's Place, finding that the restaurant was negligent in serving alcohol to a person it knew or should have known was intoxicated.

Matt Eastridge, 32, says he was "disgusted" when he learned that Huffman had been served "the equivalent of 15 drinks in two hours." He says he and his wife, also 32, had just pulled away from an ATM and were still accelerating in their Toyota RAV4. "Then we got smashed," he says. "We saw just enough to say, 'What's that guy doing?' By the time we said this, it was over."

The Eastridges were in the hospital for over a month, and Meredith lost the baby and 40% of her blood, Matt Eastridge says. They both required extensive surgeries and lengthy therapy. "Mentally, it was very difficult," he says. "Obviously, it was very challenging physically."

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