A Common Pleas Court jury has found a Coatesville restaurant liable for continuing to serve alcohol to an intoxicated man who later caused a car accident that severely injured a Chester County woman.
The jury awarded $6.8 million to Ryan Fell of West Brandywine, who remains hobbled after the crash.
Fell was driving home after visiting a friend March 15, 2007.
Omar Villalava-Martinez of Parkesburg had stopped at the Famous Mexican Restaurant & Bar in Coatesville after work. In the course of two hours, he drank 12 beers and topped that off with a shot of liquor, said Fell's attorney, Dawson R. Muth.
"By his own testimony, he became very drunk and they continued to serve him," Muth said.
Villalava-Martinez left the bar about 9:30 p.m. He climbed into a Ford Explorer and headed west on Route 30. About four miles down the road in Sadsbury, the Explorer crossed the center line and slammed into Fell's white Nissan, Muth said.
The crash crumpled the Nissan and seriously injured Fell, who was 22.
"There were so many breaks in her legs, nearly every bone was broken," Muth said. "Her ankle bone was ejected from her body, but fortunately [the surgeons] saved her foot."
Doctors used 50 screws and several metal plates to put Fell back together. More than three years after the accident, walking is still painful for her and she cannot run, Muth said. She lost her job as an administrative assistant for a trucking company and remains unemployed.
"She's gone through an awful lot," Muth said.
Villalava-Martinez, an illegal immigrant, has been deported to Mexico, and the restaurant has closed. Carlos Gregory, listed in business records as the restaurant's chief executive officer and manager, could not be reached for comment.
Under state civil law, establishments can be held liable for serving visibly intoxicated customers who later kill or seriously injure another person.
"An award that size for pain and suffering is not common in Chester County. Juries tend to be somewhat conservative here," said Muth, a former district judge. "That's why we're so happy with the verdict."