A police officer and a restaurant in Sunset Hills have settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the families of four people killed by a drunk driving crash on March 21, 2009. The officer, Christine L. Miller, is accused of driving drunk on the wrong side of the road while she was off duty, crashing into a car full of five students originally from India. The crash killed Anusha Anumolu, 23, of Charleston, Ill.; Satya Subhakar Chinta, 25, of Aurora, Ill.; Anita Lakshmi Veerapaneni, 23, of Charleston; and Priya Muppavarapu, 22, of Charleston. Also injured was the driver, 28-year-old Nitesh Adusumilli of Balwin, who recently returned to work. In addition to the lawsuit, Miller is also facing criminal charges including four counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of second-degree assault.
The settlement means Miller and O’Leary’s Restaurant & Bar have agreed to $331,375 to each family. Most of the money will come from O’Leary’s, whose employees allegedly served alcohol to an intoxicated Miller and allowed her to drive afterwards. Miller then turned the wrong way down Dougherty Ferry Road in Sunset Hills and smashing into the passenger side of the students’ Honda, which was turning right. This settlement ends claims from the families of the four students who were killed, but Adusumilli has filed a separate personal injury claim as well, and that claim continues. Miller’s next court date in her criminal case is April 22. She is on unpaid suspension from the Sunset Hills Police Department.
As a St. Louis car crash attorney, I wish these families the best as they continue to grieve and heal after this tragedy. Drunken driving is inexcusable for anyone, of course, but alcohol-serving establishments in Missouri also have a responsibility not to serve alcohol to a minor or to a “visibly intoxicated person.” This was part of the argument made in the lawsuit against Miller and O’Leary’s, which argued that both parties were negligent. According to police, Miller’s blood-alcohol content was 0.169%, more than double the legal limit of 0.08%, three hours after the crash. The suit also claimed that the restaurant’s employees knew Miller was drunk, kept serving her alcohol despite her slurred speech and unsteady gait, and did not stop her from driving or call her a taxi when she was ready to leave. If true, these allegations clearly show negligence by the restaurant, as well as by Miller.
Missouri law and fairness require that people who harm others by their negligence should right the wrongs that they’ve caused. In situations like this, where things can never go back to the way they were before the accident happened, the law allows victims and their families to claim financial damages for their injuries, pain and suffering. If you have been in an accident, you need an attorney on your side from the start to help preserve evidence, ask the right questions, and meet all the required deadlines to make sure you can recover compensation for your pain, suffering, and costs. At the Lowe Law Firm, our Missouri auto accident lawyers are honored to help innocent people who have been harmed by others’ negligence seek justice and financial compensation. In addition to all of the costs of the accident, victims may claim compensation for a wrongful death or a disability, physical pain, emotional trauma and lost enjoyment of life.
People who have been hurt in accidents like this one should contact a southern Illinois car wreck lawyer at the Lowe Law Firm for help immediately. For a free consultation, please call us at 1-877-678-3400, toll-free. You can also email us through our Web site.