Lawsuit Highlights Dangers of Underage Drinking and Tailgating

Tailgating is a time-honored tradition for countless sports fan and concertgoers, who see it as an opportunity to spend time with friends and meet new people before the start of the big event. While barbeques and coolers are a staple at most of these tailgating parties, so is alcohol. In fact, many safety advocates have long pointed to these parking lot parties as primary venues for underage drinking due to the relative lack of supervision and/or police presence.

Interestingly, this issue was recently at the center of a wrongful death case in the state of Massachusetts concerning a drunk driving crash that left two young women dead and one seriously injured.

The wrongful death suit in question was filed by the family of a 20-year-old woman who went tailgating in the parking lot of Gillette Stadium with two other friends prior to the start of a country music festival back in 2008. The women, none of whom had tickets to the actual show, brought alcohol with them to the parking lot despite being underage.

The women eventually decided to leave the venue, and were involved in a car crash less than a mile from Gillette Stadium when the driver — whose blood alcohol concentration was three times over the legal limit — left the road and struck a tree.

The lawsuit filed by the family of the young woman against the Kraft Group, owner of Gillette Stadium and the New England Patriots, claimed that it acted negligently by failing to police underage/excessive drinking in the parking lot and by failing to enforce its own “no ticket, no entry” policy enacted in 2007.

For their part, the Kraft Group argued that the group of young women was on the premises illegally as they had no tickets to the event and had furnished the alcohol themselves.

In recent developments, the two sides reached a settlement earlier this week just minutes before the commencement of trial. While terms of the settlement were not disclosed, the family had been seeking $2.5 million in damages.

The mother of the deceased young woman later expressed relief that the matter had finally come to a close, gratitude that Gillette Stadium security has now taken steps to combat excessive drinking, and hope that the lawsuit will serve to raise awareness about the dangers of tailgating and underage drinking.

While this was a purely civil matter, it’s important to remember that underage drinking and/or drunk driving charges can also have incredibly serious criminal consequences for young people. Accordingly, those in this situation here in Missouri should strongly consider speaking with an experienced attorney who will explain your options and fight to protect your future.

Source: The Boston Globe, “Settlement reached in lawsuit over crash deaths after 2008 concert at Gillette,” Peter Schworm, Nov. 4, 2013

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