Drunk driver paralyzed in accident reportedly reaches $6.6 million settlement with bars in Dram Shop case

By Jon Campisi | Dec 12, 2013

A New York man who is said to be paralyzed from the neck down due to

A New York man who is said to be paralyzed from the neck down due to

injuries he sustained after driving home drunk from a northeastern Pennsylvania bar has reportedly reached a $6.6 million settlement in his Dram Shop case against the drinking establishments and a bartender.

Manolin Jason Mercado, 36, of the Bronx, N.Y., filed suit in December 2011 at the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against Pub 570, bartender Brittany Marie DeBias, and Sticks N Stones Bar and Grill over a May 2, 2010, vehicle accident that ended with the plaintiff suffering paralysis.

The complaint blamed the defendants for over-serving Mercado despite the fact that he was visibly intoxicated.

According to the civil action, DeBias, the Pub 570 bartender, continued to serve Mercado alcohol despite the fact that he was visibly intoxicated and incapable of safe driving.

At the end of her shift, DeBias drove Mercado in Mercado’s vehicle to Sticks N Stones, where the plaintiff continued to drink despite the fact that he had apparently already had enough.

After leaving the second bar at about 9:20 that evening, Mercado drove off the roadway and rolled his vehicle several times, an accident that caused him to sustain severe spinal cord injuries that resulted in paralysis.

The complaint accused the various defendants of negligence and of violating Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Act, which prohibits drinking establishments from serving visibly intoxicated patrons.

Robert W. Sink, Mercado’s Philadelphia-based attorney, told the Morning Call newspaper in Allentown Wednesday that the $6.6 million settlement represents merely a fraction of the plaintiff’s estimated future medical expenses, which could be as much as $34 million.

Mercado’s lost wages from his job as a doorman and repairman at a New York City apartment building were estimated to be in the neighborhood of $2.8 million, the Morning Call reported.

Sink told the publication that a large portion of the multi-million-dollar settlement would go toward repaying Medicare for medical care costs that Mercado incurred after his insurance lapsed following the car accident.

Sink was quoted in the paper as saying that had the case gone to trial, and Mercado was found 51 percent liable for his own injuries, the man would have been awarded no money under state law.

The court docket shows that defendant Pub 570 was represented by Center Valley, Pa. attorney John P. Hendrzak and Scranton, Pa. attorney Zygmunt R. Bialkowski, Jr.

Lawyer Richard B. Wickersham, Jr., of the Philadelphia firm Post & Schell, represented DeBias, the bartender, while Sticks N Stones was represented by Philadelphia attorney Michael H. Malin, Jr.

The docket shows that Sink made the court aware of a proposed settlement in the case back in late September.

Sink’s letter, which said the settlement was reached with the assistance of mediator Thomas Helbig, did not contain a dollar amount.

Sink did not immediately return an emailed message from the Pennsylvania Record Wednesday evening seeking to confirm the settlement amount.

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