Skagit Jury Awards $5.5 Million Verdict for Drunk Driving Wreck

Jurors conclude negligence of State Patrol, Whatcom County, played a role in the accident.

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The accident occurred one hour and 39 minutes after a State Trooper drove a drunk driver home, returned her keys, and told her not to drive again until after she was sober

Spokane, WA (PRWEB) May 1, 2009

A Skagit County, Wash. jury has concluded the Washington State Patrol and Whatcom County must pay $5.5 million for not doing enough to stop a drunk driver who seriously injured another motorist in a 2007 head-on collision.

The April 28 jury verdict is the largest ever in Skagit County, said attorney Dean Brett of Brett & Coats, a personal injury law firm with offices in Bellingham, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma and Portland.

Brett is also the attorney of record on the county's second largest verdict of $2.4 million.

The accident occurred on Jan. 4, 2007 on Highway 542, when a drunk driver crossed the center line and slammed head-on into a car driven by Hailey French, who was 22 at the time. French suffered severe injuries to her legs, pelvis and wrists. She has already had 13 surgeries and is expected to need many more.

Brett, a long time MADD supporter, filed a lawsuit on French's behalf in October 2007.

"We sue drunk drivers - and those who enable them to wreak havoc on our highways. This catch-and-release system of dealing with drunk drivers must stop," said Brett.

One interesting twist in the lawsuit: Brett named the Washington State Patrol and Whatcom County as defendants.

"The accident occurred one hour and 39 minutes after a State Trooper drove a drunk driver home, returned her keys, and told her not to drive again until after she was sober," Brett said. "Instead, she called a taxi, returned to her car, drove drunk and crossed the centerline hitting Hailey French head-on."

Brett also noted that the drunk driver had been sentenced on a prior drunk driving charge and was required to have an alcohol interlock installed in her car. However, the Whatcom County District Court Probation Department failed to follow up on the court-ordered installation, according to Brett.

Following a three-week trial, the jury concluded the State Patrol and Whatcom County had been negligent and awarded damages to French.

The case name is French v. Parker, State of Washington and Whatcom County (Skagit County Case No. 08-2-00530-8).

About Brett & Coats

The personal injury lawyers at Brett & Coats help clients with major auto accident, personal injury and wrongful death claims in Washington State from offices in Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Spokane and Bellingham. Brett & Coats maintains a Web site, WashingtonInjury.com, which provides a comprehensive introduction to Washington personal injury law.

For more information or a free case evaluation, contact the firm at 1-800-925-1875 or through its online and confidential Claims Review Form.

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