Fatal Beaverton-area Car Crash Raises Dram Shop Issues

An August 2009 head-on car crash that left two dead in Bethany, near Beaverton, is the subject of a suit brought under Oregon’s dram shop laws, according to an article published last week in The Oregonian.

The Oregon dram shop suit has been brought by the family of Thai Hoang-Williams, who died as a result of a head-on collision with Belinda Lopez, who also died in the Oregon car crash. Lopez’s car crossed the centerline to strike Hoang-Williams’ vehicle. At the time, police blamed speed for the accident, but a private investigator hired by Hoang-Williams’ family also found that Lopez had been drinking heavily at a nearby restaurant, Chen’s Dynasty, shortly before the accident.

According to the newspaper, the Oregon wrongful death lawsuit alleges that Chen’s Dynasty shares responsibility for the accident with Lopez herself because it allegedly continued to serve her alcohol after she was drunk. This claim, according to the newspaper, is based on toxicology reports that were not released publicly at the time of the crash, but which show Lopez to have been significantly over the legal limit for blood alcohol at the time of the accident.

The case is a strong reminder of the responsibility bartenders bear, especially when they know that many of their customers arrived by car and also intend to leave that way. Bartenders and retail alcohol merchants need to understand that they, too, can be held responsible for Oregon drunk driving and the irreparable damage it can cause to families across our state.

If you, or a member of your family, have been victimized by a Portland, Beaverton, Corvallis or Bethany drunk driver it is essential that you consult with an Oregon personal injury and wrongful death attorney who is familiar with the ins-and-outs of dram shop laws. Obtaining justice can be a long and difficult road, but with the help of a Portland car crash and wrongful death lawyer you can help send a message that responsible behavior is required of vendors as well as drinkers.

The Oregonian: Family accuses Chen’s Dynasty of overserving Lake Oswego teacher before fatal crash