A man enters a bar in the Five Points area of Columbia one night. Two hours later, he leaves, then returns a half-hour later. While inside the bar, he buys and consumes nearly $200 worth of alcohol. All of this is captured on the bar's security cameras.
A couple hours later, the man, whose blood-alcohol level was 0.20, struck and killed a man who was crossing the street. Now the restaurant who served drinks to the driver, Jake's Bar & Grill, has settled a lawsuit filed by the victim's family over the fatal pedestrian accident for $975,000.
The victim's family is also suing the driver for wrongful death. The suit against Jake's was based on South Carolina's dram shop law, which says that anyone who serves drinks to an intoxicated person and then allows that person to drive may be liable for any injuries that result. The principle behind dram shop laws is that a bar, restaurant or party host is negligently responsible by contributing to the driver's drunk driving.
According to the family's attorney, the victim had the right of way as he attempted to cross the street and the driver was speeding. He also failed to brake, suggesting that he was not aware of his surroundings.
While bars generally may use indoor security cameras to protect themselves from legal liability, in this case the footage appeared to expose Jake's own negligence.
Following a number of pedestrian accidents at Five Points in 2012, local businesses and government have been working to improve safety. The intersections now have repainted crosswalks and a "No Right on Red" sign at one intersection.
Source: The State, "Five Points bar pays $975,000 settlement," John Monk, Jan. 16, 2013