A South Carolina woman, who is now a paraplegic, is suing a Bluffton bar, claiming its bartender didn’t check her ID before serving her drinks on the night of the car accident that left her paralyzed.
Chelsea Hess also sued the state Department of Transportation, the town of Bluffton and Beaufort County, alleging they negligently maintained the road shoulder she drove over on Aug. 8, 2009. Hess was 20 years old that night, and headed with friends to Jock’s Sport Grill for drinks and a game of billiards.
She claims that when she ordered a drink at the bar,no one asked to see her identification or sought to determine whether she old enough to buy alcohol: 21 in South Carolina.
“The bartender failed to attempt to ascertain whether or not plaintiff was already impaired by alcohol consumption when she purchased the alcoholic beverage and made sale to plaintiff even though she was unable to legally purchase the alcoholic beverage, and notwithstanding the possibility that she was already impaired by alcohol consumption,” according to the complaint.
Hess says she left the bar after 1 a.m. and was driving home when “[the] wheels of the motor vehicle plaintiff was operating suddenly dropped off into a large unmaintained area on the shoulder of Alljoj Road, which caused plaintiff to lose control of her vehicle and causing her to roll the vehicle off the side of the road.”
Newspapers at the time quoted a police spokesperson as saying that Hess drove her 2000 Mitsubishi off the road and then overcorrected. She was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown about 20 feet from the vehicle, the newspapers reported, citing statements from emergency officials. Hess suffered numerous serious, debilitating injuries and was left paraplegic.
She seeks actual and punitive damages, for negligence and gross negligence.
In its response to the lawsuit, Schubert Place LLC, operator of Jock’s Sport Grill, denied Hess’s assertions, arguing that “any injuries sustained by the plaintiff were due to and caused by the intervening and superseding acts of negligence, recklessness, willfulness and gross negligence on the part of third persons over whom this defendant had no control.”
The South Carolina Department of Transportation also blamed Hess, saying the accident occurred due to a number of events for which she bore responsibility, including driving while intoxicated, failing to keep her car under proper control, failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to follow the posted speed limit and failing to “act in a reasonable and prudent manner as was required under the circumstance and conditions then and there existing.”