BOSTON – A livery company and its driver could be held liable in a fatal car accident caused by a drunken passenger after he left the livery van, the state's highest court ruled.
The Supreme Judicial Court found that Ultimate Livery Service Inc., of Boston, and its driver, Richard Broderick, were negligent in a 2001 accident that killed an off-duty Boston police officer and left several other people with serious injuries.
The court said Broderick should not have dropped off a drunken passenger at a location where he would likely get into a car and drive.
William Powers, along with five other men, had hired Ultimate to take them to a bachelor party on the night of Aug. 11, 2001. The driver picked them up in a 15-passenger van at a South Boston sports bar, took them to a strip club in Rhode Island, then drove them back to the sports bar. The men drank in both bars and during the ride to and from Rhode Island.
Powers, joined by two of the men, drove away after being dropped off and had a violent intersection collision with another car. The crash killed Sean Waters, an off-duty police officer who was a passenger in the other car, and passengers in both cars were injured.
Lawsuits were filed by Waters' estate and the injured passengers, claiming that Ultimate and its driver were negligent in allowing Powers to leave the van at the Boston bar when they knew, or should have known, that Powers was likely to drive a car while intoxicated.
A Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuits, finding tto people who plan to drink heavily.
'They know that their passengers are drinking to the point of intoxication where they cannot safely drive and they cannot even safely make the decision about whether to drive. Given that, the transportation service should know better than to simply leave someone at their car,' Bogdanow said.
Source: Associated Press