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Passenger injured in crash awarded $200K in suit against East Hartford bar that served drunk woman

EAST HARTFORD–A woman has won $200,000 in a lawsuit against a bar after she was injured in a car crash. According to the CT Law Tribune, On March 16, 2012...

EAST HARTFORD–A woman has won $200,000 in a lawsuit against a bar after she was injured in a car crash.

According to the CT Law Tribune, On March 16, 2012 Shandeline Gutierrez went to liquor store and bought a bottle of vodka before picking up her friend, Jasmin Oyola. The women said they each drank three or four shots before going into the Piolyn Jr. bar in East Hartford, where Gutierrez worked as a bartender. She wasn’t working that night.

Gutierrez said she had a couple more drinks over course of evening, and they left around 1:30 a.m.

Oyola claims that Gutierrez was visibly drunk throughout the night, stumbling around the bar and spilling her drink.

“My client also testified that as they walked out of the bar they were holding onto each other because they were both unsteady on their feet because they were intoxicated,” Oyola’s lawyer, J. Xavier Pryor, told the CT Law Tribune.

Gutierrez was driving her boyfriend’s car that night, and while driving on I-84 west, she crashed into barrels on the highway while trying to get off at exit 48. Most of the impact was to the passenger side, where Oyola sitting.

Gutierrez, who was studying to be a paramedic at the time, noticed Oyola’s pulse was weak and she was unconscious. Gutierrez drove Oyola to the hospital, which she claims was because she couldn’t find her cell phone. Oyola’s lawyer disagreed with that.

“Our position was that she drove to the hospital because she didn’t want the police to come and discover she was intoxicated,” said Pryor.

Oyola was resuscitated at the hospital and remained there for about a week to recover from a concussion, cuts, bruises to her kidneys and liver, and a right shoulder injury.

While at the hospital, Gutierrez spoke to police. She initially lied and said she was t-boned before getting on the highway, and then crashed into the barrels. She admitted she had lied at trial and that she was trying to get insurance to cover the alleged second crash. The officer who spoke with Gutierrez didn’t suspect she was intoxicated.

After the crash Oyola settled with Gutierrez’s boyfriend’s insurance company for the maximum limit on his policy, $25,000.

Oyola then sued the bar and its owner, Miguel Franco Jr., for serving Gutierrez even though they say she was visibly drunk.

The jury agreed, and awarded Oyola just under $200,000. The defense is asking the judge to disregard the verdict, and a hearing has been set for November 30.