Many of us remember the fatal car crash of 2011 that killed Ryan Dunn (of MTV‘s Jackass) and his friend Zachary Hartwell. After the horrible news was reported, we soon learned that Ryan was the one driving the car and that he had been drinking heavily that night. Zachary‘s parents are now suing Ryan Dunn‘s estate for unspecified damages, claiming that Ryan is responsible for the untimely death of their son. Details inside.
TMZ has the report:
The parents of the passenger who was also killed in Ryan Dunn’s fatal 2011 high speed car crash are suing the “Jackass” star’s estate … claiming Dunn was extremely drunk when he wrecked his Porsche and is responsible for killing their son.
TMZ broke the story … Dunn had been drinking HEAVILY before he crashed his Porsche into a tree at 132 mph in Pennsylvania in June 2011 … killing himself and his passenger Zachary Hartwell.
Now, Hartwell’s parents have filed a lawsuit against Dunn’s estate AND the bar where Dunn had been drinking before the crash … claiming Barnaby’s West Chester was negligent in serving Dunn after he was obviously hammered.
The Hartwells also claim Dunn was reckless and negligent by operating his vehicle while under the influence of alcohol … and should not have been driving at extremely dangerous speeds.
Zach’s parents are suing for unspecified damages … claiming they’ve lost the services, guidance, and comfort of their son. And they want Dunn’s estate to cover expenses associated with Zach’s death … including funeral costs.
Zach’s parents are also suing on behalf of their son’s estate … claiming Dunn and the bar should pay for the “pre-impact fright, fear, pain and suffering” that Zach experienced before he died.
Zach’s parents also want both parties to pay for the wages Zach would have earned during his lifetime.
Now this story got a lot of responses on TMZ and some other sites. Some folks are saying they totally understand Zachary‘s parents (George and Erma Hartwell); they lost a son and feel that they wouldn’t have, if Ryan Dunn had been more responsible. But others have pointed out that Zachary was drinking as well, and that he made an unfortunate decision by getting in a car with Ryan, but it was his decision to make.
Others have questioned the total validity of the suit, considering that it’s been a year since the accident; they argue that it seems unlikely that this is being motivated by grief.
What do you guys think? I’m not sure you can really sue a bar for serving a drunk person more alcohol… can you? I mean, obviously you can, but I don’t see how this would hold up in court. Should a bartender be responsible for determining whether or not a person is drunk and– if so– how drunk? And while I cannot understand what the Hartwells are feeling right now, I’m not sure that it’s fair to blame Ryan or the bar for what happened. Overall, I think it’s just really sad when tragedies like this turn into legal issues. Drunk driving is definitely an issue and there should be more discussion (and action) concerning laws and how they factor into cases like this, but I don’t think that this is the way to go.
You can read the court documents for the lawsuit here.