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Dram shop case results in $1.05M settlement

An Easley restaurant agreed to pay a commercial truck driver $800,000 to settle claims it overserved alcohol to one of its customers, who ended up crashing her car into his tractor-trailer after she left the restaurant.

Under the terms of the settlement, the restaurant’s name was withheld. But court records say Karen Best was leaving the Copper River Grill at about 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 31, 2013, when the traffic collision occurred.

Lawrence Kellett was driving on behalf of Southeast Freightlines, when Best’s vehicle pulled out in front of him, causing the two vehicles to collide.

Court records say Best’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit at the time of the crash. She was ultimately arrested and charged with driving under the influence, failing to maintain proof of insurance and driving without a license, according to court records.

Kellett allegedly suffered severe back injuries, which required surgery. He also allegedly suffered permanent impairment, disability and medication needs. Kellett’s total medical bills came to $77,690.

Kellett filed a workers’ compensation claim, which settled for $175,000. He also sued Best and Copper River Grill.

The case against Best settled for $25,000, the limits of her automobile insurance policy. But because it had overserved Best, Copper River Grill faced additional punitive damages. The restaurant agreed to an $800,000 settlement.

Kellett’s underinsured motorist insurance carrier agreed to pay $50,000, the limits of Kellett’s policy.

In all, Kellett received $1.05 million in compensation.

“This is why these cases are so important, Kellett’s attorney, Ryan Montgomery, said. “There was a significant punitive aspect to Mr. Kellett’s case because of the bar’s role in the accident.”

Montgomery is a Greenville-based solo practitioner. Kellett was also represented by James “Wally” Fayssoux of Fayssoux &  Landis in Greenville.


Amount: $1.05 million

Case name: Kellett v. Best

Case no.: 2015-CP-23-03173

Court: Greenville County Circuit Court

Attorneys for plaintiff: Ryan Montgomery, a Greenville-based solo practitioner, and James “Wally” Fayssoux of Fayssoux &  Landis in Greenville

Attorney for defendant: Undisclosed

Follow Jeff Jeffrey on Twitter @ SCLWJeffrey

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