A deadly car crash on Dec. 8, 2012, killed Dallas Cowboys player Jerry Brown and six years later a jury has finally brought it to a conclusion. The jurors found that a former fellow Cowboys player and the now-defunct bar the two went to on the night of the crash are each partially responsible for Brown’s death.
On the night of the accident, Brown left Beamers nightclub with his best friend and teammate Josh Brent in Brent’s Mercedes. Brent decided to drive that night, despite being too drunk to drive. His blood alcohol content was .189, which is over two times the legal limit. Just a few minutes after leaving the Irving club Brent rolled the car while driving 110 miles per hour.
This type of auto accident is among the five most common types of personal injury cases, along with medical malpractice, premises liability, product liability, and wrongful death claims. In the time since the accident, Brent has already served several months in jail for intoxication manslaughter and got one year of probation as well.
Brown’s mother, Stacey Jackson, decided to also file a civil suit against the owner of the nightclub. While only about 1% of civil cases actually reach trial in federal courts today, as compared to the 11.5% that did so in 1962, this civil suit did make it to a jury. After about five hours, that jury had reached their decision to award Jackson $25 million as compensation for the death of her son.
The jurors also determined who was at fault for the accident. They found Brown 4% responsible for not wearing a seatbelt and getting into the car with his friend, Brent 48% responsible for causing the crash, and the nightclub Beamers 48% responsible for overserving the two men. According to the lawsuit Jackson filed, the nightclub overserving both Brent and Brown made the establishment partially responsible.
This claim held up in court, as a Texas law that is commonly known as the “Dram Shop Act” states that when a business sells or serves alcohol, it can be liable for any injuries or damages that occur as a result. The plaintiff just needs to prove that the business provided alcohol to an already “obviously intoxicated” person. Defense attorneys for Beamers attempted to claim that Brent was not drunk when he left the club, but video evidence showed the two leaving Beamers in the Mercedes just six minutes before the crash.
Jackson will receive the award on behalf of her son’s estate. She and Brown’s estate had initially asked for a $95 million award, seeking it primarily from the owners and management group of Beamers. Of the $25 million she did receive, Jackson said that some of it will go to a non profit organization she started in Brown’s name.