Jury Awards $10.5 Mil to Family of Woman Crushed by Monster Truck at Spearmint Rhino

Categories: Legal Battles

kasey-mckenzie-300x225.jpg
Fox 4
In the early morning hours of March 17, 2011, 23-year-old Kasey McKenzie was walking through the parking lot of Spearmint Rhino when she was struck and killed by a Ford F-250 with enormous wheels and a monster lift kit as it left a parking space.

The driver, 27-year-old Eric Crutchfield, had spent the past several hours at the strip club drinking. Lab results would later put his blood alcohol content at0 .18, more than twice the legal limit, but at the time, police could tell only that he was wasted and that he had an absurdly, possibly illegally, large truck.

According to DPD's account of the incident, Crutchfield's truck was so big that he had no idea he'd hit McKenzie despite the fact that he ran her over with both his front and rear wheels.

It took all of a month for McKenzie's parents, who live in Granbury, to sue Crutchfield and Spearmint Rhino (the legal name of which is High Expectations Hospitality, LLC) for negligence -- Crutchfield for driving drunk (he would eventually plead guilty to intoxication manslaughter and is serving three years in prison) and Spearmint Rhino for allowing him to get that drunk and then letting him drive away.

EricCrutchfield.jpg
Eric Crutchfield
The verdict in the case came down yesterday after a two-week trial. McKenzie's parents, Gary McKenzie and Karen McDonald, were awarded a shade more than $10.5 million in damages.

The jury determined Spearmint Rhino bears 70 percent of the responsibility for McKenzie's death and thus should pay 70 percent of that. Crutchfield will have to pay the rest.

The word from a spokesman for the family's attorney is that this is the largest award in a dram shop case (those filed against alcohol-serving establishments) since at least 1985, and probably ever.

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23 comments
TexMarine
TexMarine

Momma's, don't let your babies grow up to be douchebags. Don't let'em "rock" faux haws and ride in big trucks.

randy.in.arizona
randy.in.arizona

Just curious if the drunk's haircut covers a pinhead - -

Daniel
Daniel

At the time this story broke, I remember noting that I'd seen that very truck before (not at a strip club -- honest! -- but, oddly enough, at the Loon, and elsewhere in Uptown, where, I feel compelled to assert, I don't hang out often). Other commenters had seen it, too. It is memorable. 

The truck is not just an insult to all decency, but a crime against humanity. I was utterly baffled as to how one could get into this grotesque beast -- and I'm 6'2" and slender. The bottom edge of the cab door was, no shit, at my eye level or above. It wasn't if, but when.

Three years, huh? Sheesh.


Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

I hope the guy can't afford more than an '88 Ford Ranger on 16" rims with bald tires for the rest of his life. Asshole.

ruddski
ruddski

Anyone who names a bar "Spearmint Rhino" deserves to be sued.

Tom434
Tom434

The question now is how much will they be able to collect

WylieH
WylieH

@Daniel That's the part I don't get--- this guy had openly been driving this dangerous machine all over Uptown (an area with extremely heavy DPD patrols) for weeks, seemingly without consequence.

Why is it that this apparently illegal vehicle wasn't seized by DPD during that time it was  being operated in the weeks leading up to the accident?

Ricky_Hollywood
Ricky_Hollywood

@WylieH @Daniel I used to live next door to the guy, just spoke to him a couple times.  He was an asshole, but he said if he kept his oklahoma plates on, then the cops didn't bother him.  I don't know how true that is.  It's just what he said.

raubin
raubin

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @Tom434 Actually, once you have them up over 50%, they are typically liable for the whole enchilda.  It's too early to know how much will actually be recovered - the Court hasn't even entered judgment on the jury's verdict yet.  Then you will probably have an appeal filed and the insurance company may have some defenses to actually covering the claim.  The trial is often just Act One.

James080
James080 topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @Tom434  

Assuming he had auto insurance. One out of five Texas drivers have no auto insurance. The asshole that rear ended me last year whipped out an insurance card, but when I contacted his insurer, they said he was dropped several months earlier for failure to pay premiums.

Lawyer
Lawyer

@crustyjugglers @raubin @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @Tom434  

 crusty - don't try to correct someone who was accurately correcting a prior mistake.

 Texas has a concept called joint and several responsibility.  You can read Chapter 33 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code if you want to learn about this.

Under joint & several responsibility, if any defendant is 50.1% or more responsible, then that Defendant is liable for 100% of the damages.  The only reduction is for the Plaintiffs' comparative responsibility.  If not defendant is responsible for more than 50%, then no defendant is jointly & severally responsible, and each Defendant is responsible for their assigned percentage (e.g., 4 defendants each 25% responsible would mean they are each liable for 25% of the damages only). 

So, by way of example, because Spearmint Rhino is 70% responsible, they are liable for the entire $10.5m or whatever the judgment ultimately is.  If the jury said the girl was 10% responsible, you take 1.05million off the top, and the J&S Defendant would be responsible for 100% of 9.45m.  Note: I don't know if the jury held the victim at all responsible in this case; this is just an illustration of how it works.

 Spearmint Rhino could seek to get reimbursed from the driver for his 30% share ("contribution"), but good luck with that.  SR's ability to collect contribution is irrelevant to Plaintiff who gets to collect 100% from SR regardless of contribution.

 In case it isn't obvious, I am a civil lawyer who does this exact thing, so please don't attempt to correct me.

James080
James080 topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk @James080 @GuitarPlayer  

That is what saved me, Uninsured Motorist Insurance. It paid my medical and repairs. They even located the driver that hit me and filed suit, an old fellow, but he died before the case went anywhere. 

GuitarPlayer
GuitarPlayer

@James080   

The first thing you do is call the number on the card and see if the owner is still insured. If not or if they don't want you to call get the police involved.

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