The parents and estate of a 25-year-old dance teacher who was killed in a drunken driving crash in 2006 were awarded $3.1 million in damages recently by a state court jury. The jury found Robert LaBarre, the man who killed Sheena Marie Villa, 85% liable for her death and awarded $1.1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages against him. But the jury found the bar that served LaBarre that night was not at fault. It found that the decedent, a passenger in the car, was 15% liable for her own death.
There was a dispute as to whether LaBarre was “visibly intoxicated” when he was served alcohol at the bar. The Plaintiff’s lawyer attempted to prove that the bar continued to serve LaBarre even though he was “visibly intoxicated.” But it appears that while LaBarre made two trips to the bar that night, he drank before and after his first visit and had “gulped down” vodka at an apartment after the second trip to the bar. That second visit ended more than an hour before the fatal crash that occurred at 3:15 a.m. on March 24, 2006.
In February 2007, LaBarre pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle while driving drunk and related offenses. According to the investigating officers, he drove his sport utility vehicle about 85 mph on a city street in Allentown in the early morning – despite pleas from Ms. Villa and another passenger for him to slow down – and crashed his car into a tree. The back-seat passenger in the car, who was also Ms. Villa’s boyfriend, survived. Police said LaBarre’s blood-alcohol level was 0.24%, three times the legal limit. He was sentenced to five to 12 years in state prison.
Source: The Morning Call
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