Published on March 11th, 2013 | by Daniel R. Perlman0
Holland pub ordered to pay $400K after serving alcohol to driver in crash that killed 18-year-old
The family of an 18-year-old Hamilton High School graduate killed in a drunken driving crash was awarded $500,000 through the settlement of a civil suit against the driver and a Holland pub that served him alcohol.
Eleazar Mendoza was sentenced in July 2012 for driving drunk causing the death of Bethany Rozema. He was ordered to spend 3 to 15 years in prison for the offense.
Police said Mendoza, 22, was westbound on 17th Street when he ran a red light at Pine Avenue in Holland at about 1:40 a.m. on Feb. 23, 2012.
Related: Holland man sent to prison for drunken driving crash that killed Hamilton graduate
Mendoza‘s vehicle slammed into the driver’s side door of Rozema‘s Toyota. She died at the scene.
Police said Mendoza had been traveling 50 mph in a 25 mph zone just before the crash.
Court documents show he left the Curragh Irish Pub in downtown Holland just 17 minutes before the crash.
Sherri Rozema, Bethany Rozema’s mother, filed a wrongful death suit in April on behalf of her daughter, against the Curragh and Mendoza. The suit alleged bartenders at the Curragh served alcohol to Mendoza when he was already visibly intoxicated.
Mendoza’s blood-alcohol level was 0.184 at the crash scene, and 0.16 more than two hours after the accident, court records show.
A case evaluation panel ordered the Curragh to pay $400,000. Mendoza must pay an additional $100,000.
Christopher Berry, a Holland attorney representing the Rozema family, said the suit was never about monetary gain, but about holding those responsible for Bethany Rozema’s death accountable. Her death was preventable, and that’s what hurts the most.
What the family lost, Berry said, “far exceeds” anything they could have gained.
“The result of this lawsuit doesn’t do anything to bring back what has been lost,” he said.
Jonathan Damon, who represented Mendoza, spoke of a trip to the Upper Peninsula prison where he is lodged, to speak with him. Mendoza was “visibly devastated” by what happened, Damon said. The death has affected him “tremendously.”
“Mr. Mendoza was very candid that he was intoxicated and he was at fault … This will stay with him for the rest of his life.”
At his sentencing, Mendoza shed tears as he spoke to Bethany Rozema’s mother.
An attorney for the Curragh did not return a message left for comment.
The Holland pub this week released a statement regarding the outcome of the case. Owners said the settlement was one that came with the “full agreement” of everyone involved.
“In the year that has passed since the tragic death of Bethany Rozema, we have thought often of her family and the sadness and loss they feel. A tragedy like this is more than any family should endure, and we are very sorry for their loss. … We understand that no amount of monetary compensation can undo the tragedy that occurred. However, now that the settlement has been agreed upon, and the civil action has been concluded, the payment to the family can proceed.”
Source: Michigan Live “Holland pub ordered to pay $400K after serving alcohol to driver in crash that killed 18-year-old,” March 8, 2013.