Baker v. Hess, and Twin Village Veterans’ Association

Practice Area: Personal Injury

Outcome: Large settlement

Description: Plaintiff sustained multiple trauma when Hess went through a stop sign and struck Plaintiff who was riding his motorcycle. Plaintiff died of a pulmonary embolism 1 month after the accident, leaving a wife and children as surviving dependents. Defendant Hess had been drinking at the nearby Veteran’s Association’s VFW Post. The accident was witnessed by a police officer who immediately saw that Hess was intoxicated. He was charged and pled guilty to DWI. The successful settlement of this case hinged largely upon an insurance issue as to the VFW which had an exclusion in their liability policy for dram shop claims. I put the VFW on notice of our dram shop claim and the VFW forwarded the letter to their carrier, who failed to disclaim in a timely manner. Upon the making of a declaratory judgment action the insurer tried to disclaim. However, at the urging of private counsel for the VFW, and counsel assigned to represent the VFW, the carrier conceded that they had to provide coverage for the dram shop claim despite the policy exclusion. Shortly thereafter, the case was settled for the driver’s $100,000 policy limits and for the majority of the $500,000 CGL policy limits of the VFW.