Two bars in East Stroudsburg, Penn., that were sued by a man paralyzed due to drinking and driving have reached a settlement in the case. The bars will pay the man a combined $6.6 million.
Jason Mercado says he was celebrating at Pub 570 one night after playing on the bar's softball team and decided to have some drinks. At one point in the evening, Mercado says he told the bartender he'd had enough to drink, but she allegedly insisted that he have some more and told him that she would drive him home later on.
At some point in the evening, the two drove to a different bar, Sticks N Stones Bar and Grill, and Mercado, who at that point was visibly intoxicated, was served alcohol by the bartender there. Mercado eventually fell asleep on a bench outside the bar, and when he woke up around 9 p.m., he couldn’t find his friends. So he went inside, saw his keys sitting on a table, and decided to drive himself home.
On the drive home, Mercado crashed into a tree and flipped his car multiple times.
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Now, the man is a quadriplegic and requires care 24 hours a day. He needs assistance with everything, from dressing himself to using the bathroom. Mercado's lawyer, Robert W. Sink, estimates that his lifetime medical expenses will be around $34 million.
"This was a tragedy and no amount of money will compensate my client, but given the facts of the case we had to make a compromise to get the case settled," said Sink.
Still, the case would have been difficult to prove in a court. Mercado was in part responsible for the accident and his condition, but lawyers say that the two bars violated Pennsylvania laws by allowing him to continue drinking when visibly intoxicated and allowing him to drive home.
"And if the jury found the drunk driver was more than 50 percent at fault, then he would have gotten nothing," said Sink. "So there was a substantial risk of going to trial based on that alone."
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The case was settled in a one-day mediation, and both bars will have to pay different amounts for their roles in the accident. Mercado will walk away with a little more than $3 million after attorney fees and taxes.