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Chrissie Cole
Chrissie Cole
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Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Bar & Driver

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A man that was convicted of drunk driving in a fatal car crash is now facing a wrongful death lawsuit. The bar he was drinking at prior to the crash is also facing many lawsuits.

In August, he was sentenced to 5 to 7 years in prison by a Bennington District Court Judge. He pled guilty in May to driving while intoxicated on the night his car crashed into a bakery. His passenger driving along side him, died at the scene.

Jocar Inc, the owner of JC’s Tavern, where he had been drinking before the crash occurred is also named in many of the civil suits that have been filed by the family.

The man is being sued for two counts of wrongful death and two counts of negligence. The bar is facing three counts of negligence and three counts of violating liquor laws.

The complaints don’t specify damages being sought, but they do ask for compensation to the family for the loss of their loved one’s life.

In the suit, the family claims that “Whitman purchased numerous alcoholic beverages from JOCAR, by or through its agents, servants and/or employees, and consumed those alcoholic beverages at JC’s Tavern.” The suit alleges that the bar “continued to serve alcoholic beverages to Whitman after he had become visibly intoxicated and/or after it was reasonable to expect him to be intoxicated as a result of the alcoholic beverages which it had already served to him.”

According to the complaint, JC’s Tavern was cited to appear before the Vermont Liquor Control Board for selling alcoholic beverages to a patron displaying signs of intoxication and for furnishing alcohol to a patron for no charge. The bar lost its licenses to sell alcohol for 60 days, from Jan. 1 to March 2 of this year.

In his answer to the suits filed, Whitman, acting without legal representation, denied that the plaintiffs were entitled to any relief. In his filed response, Whitman denies he negligently operated a vehicle while intoxicated. He admits that the accident occurred, but denies that he caused the accident. Whitman also admits he purchased beverages at the bar during the evening of Nov. 12 and early morning of Nov. 13, but objects to the term “numerous” beverages.