UVA Student Files $40 Million Suit Against ABC Agents and State For Traumatic Sparkling Water Episode

| by Allison Geller

A University of Virginia student filed a $40 million lawsuit Tuesday against the state and seven ABC agents who surrounded her car and drew guns on her and a friend -- all because of a case of beer that turned out to be sparkling water.

Elizabeth Daly was charged with assaulting the ABC agents last year when she and a friend went to pick up cookie dough for a charity fundraiser and other items from a Charlottesville Harris Teeter. After finishing up, Daly and her friend exited the store, with Daly carrying a clearly visible case of canned LaCroix sparkling water.

The two women got into Daly’s Chevy Trailblazer and were suddenly surrounded by seven plainclothes officers banging on the windows -- six men and one woman. Daly, who is now 21, was terrified and unsure that they were really agents, she claims.

The agents, who had been in the parking lot checking IDs of people who appeared to be underage and were buying alcohol, were wearing their badges “hanging from necklaces which at the time and under the circumstances were not clearly visible or readable,” the suit states.

The panicked students were not able to open the windows at the agent’s orders because the car was not running. Daly called 911 on her phone and her friend told the operator that they did not know if the people were really law enforcement officers.

That’s when one agent drew his gun and pointed it at the ground, and another tried to break the passenger’s window with his flashlight.

Daly put her foot on the gas and left the parking lot, grazing two of the agents, with the intention of going to the police station. Police arrived and drove her to the station, where she spent the night in jail for assaulting two agents and for failing to stop when ordered—felony offenses in Virginia.

Though the charges were expunged, Daly is suing for “significant legal, medical and other costs,” the Times-Dispatch reports, alleging that she suffers from post-traumatic stress and intense anxiety as a result of the incident.

Michael Kelly, director of communications for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, said of the 47-page suit filed in Richmond Circuit Court, “It’s incredibly unfortunate that the situation that night in Charlottesville occurred at all.”

“As this case proceeds, the Attorney General’s Office will defend the commonwealth’s interests and work to ensure a just and reasonable outcome,” Kelly said.

Sources: Daily Progress, Richmond Times-Dispatch