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PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: GJEL Accident Attorneys, Orinda, by Luke Ellis and Ralph L. Jacobson

Plaintiffs in this case were the wife and three adult children of decedent, a man in his 50s. Decedent was killed when his auto collided head-on with an auto driven by defendant employee, who had just left a Christmas party held by defendant employer at a local bar open to the public. Both decedent and a defendant employee had blood alcohol levels in excess of legal limits. Plaintiffs contended that defendant employee caused the subject accident; that he was acting in the course and scope of his employment at the time; and that defendant employer was liable for compensatory and punitive damages for the actions of its employee. Defendant employer contended that the party was purely a social function of no benefit to the employer; that the employee was responsible for his own actions; that decedent himself was drunk and was responsible for the accident; and that he died instantly, so that punitive damages were inapplicable.

RESULT: The case settled before trial for $1,100,000, including $1 million policy limits from the employer and $100,000 from the employee.