Couple gets $1.7M from bar after DUI death




Posted on October 3, 2012 at 8:23 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 21 at 8:02 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Nearly two years after a drunk driver slammed into a car going more than 90 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone, a Charlotte couple spoke about a $1.7 million jury verdict they received.

But Matt and Meredith Eastridge said it was not about money, but making sure places that serve alcohol change ways.
Matt was behind the wheel of his Toyota RAV 4 on October 29, 2010, when a 1997 Volvo crashed into the SUV.  Matt's wife, Meredith, was also in the SUV.  She was six months pregnant at the time.

David Huffman, the driver of the Volvo, died at the scene of the crash.  Matt and Meredith were critically injured in the crash.  Meredith lost her un-born child, and both of the Eastridge’s spent months in the hospital.

Huffman had just left Eddie's Place Restaurant and Bar in the Cotswold area of Charlotte.

"During the course of a little more than two hours they were served four draft beers and six double Grand Marnier.  It’s the equivalent of almost 15 drinks," said attorney Charles G. Monnett. "The person left the bar and drove down Providence Road at a speed estimated at over 100 miles per hour in a 45 mph speed zone."
"It’s hard for me to talk about.  I know it’s been two years since this happened but the pain of losing him doesn't go away," said Meredith Eastridge "We have a daughter and she's wonderful but he was our first child and we just were so excited to have a little boy on the way and now we have to go visit him at a graveyard."
Last week the couple won a civil lawsuit against the establishment that served him right before Huffman was involved in the fatal crash.

Now they say that they want to make sure that businesses start training their employees on how to recognize how to notice when customers have had too much to drink. 
"The drunk driver who hit Matt and Meredith had a blood alcohol level of .23, which is almost three times the legal limit." said Monnett.

Monnet said while the state of North Carolina has laws forbidding establishments from serving customers who are intoxicated, the state does not have a set training for employees teaching them the signs to look out for when dealing with customers and alcohol.
"We want the bars to have responsibility and not over serve their patrons," said Matt Eastridge.  "Justice was served.  It’s just a shame that it (took) deaths to get to this point."
"We want to make sure that everyone from the owner all the way down to the person who hands the glass to the customer knows what to look for and knows when people are being over served," said Monnett.

The Eastridges made a contribution to Mothers Against Drunk Driving in honor of their un-born son, who they named Eli.

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