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Restaurant parent company to pay $1.1 million after fatal crash

The parent company of an increasingly popular restaurant chain will pay $1.1 million to the family of a North Carolina man after he was killed in a fiery car crash. The fatal accident occurred when one of the restaurant's employees slammed into the victim's car from behind, pushing it into a concrete wall and causing it to explode in flames. The 32-year-old employee was charged with felony DUI after registering a blood alcohol level of 0.24 during a breathalyzer test. The suspect was released from jail after paying $52,349 in bail. He was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleged that the restaurant was partially responsible for the death, as it allowed the employee to drink excessive amounts of alcohol after his shift and did not prevent him from driving, despite having a blood alcohol level three times that of North Carolina's legal limit. The suit also accused the restaurant of acting negligently in hiring and managing the suspect, as well as keeping him employed, though the details of the claim are unclear.

Neighborhood Dining Group, the restaurant's parent company, denied fault or any responsibility for the accident, but agreed to settle the lawsuit for $1.1 million. Per the settlement's details, the man's common-law wife will receive $91,000 while his parents will receive $518,513. The remaining damages will go toward paying legal cost and attorneys' fees.

Following the settlement, numerous other restaurants and food service companies have tightened their policies regarding employee drinking. "There may have been a lot of gray area before," explained the owner of one such company. "What [the lawsuit] forced us to do was really crystallize -- 'Hey, this is how we feel about it, this absolutely can't happen at all'," he added.

Source: Post and Courier, "Husk owner agrees to settle wrongful death suit for $1.1 million," Teresa Taylor, Aug. 5, 2012

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